No cuts to £1.66m grant for voluntary Sheffield groups

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Funding for voluntary organisations in Sheffield will be maintained, the city council has pledged – despite having to save £50 million this year.

The £1.66m voluntary sector grant currently funds 20 organisations and more than 50 lunch clubs. They help vulnerable residents, tackle loneliness and isolation, and help turn people’s lives around, with the support of more than 1,400 volunteers.

Cabinet member for public health and equality Coun Mazher Iqbal said: “Our voluntary sector grant aid funds organisations that make a difference to people’s lives. These are people who are vulnerable, may be living in poverty, and at risk of loneliness and isolation.

“This is important. We know the difference our funding makes and are committed to doing everything we can to help those most in need in our city at a time of continued budget cuts.”

Among those to benefit from the grant is Sheffield Citizens Advice, which will get £876,000.

Chief executive Andy Buck said: “We are delighted that the council is continuing to support us. We help about 20,000 people every year, many of whom are facing great difficulties, often about poverty, housing and employment.

“The people we help often tell us that we are a lifeline, without which their problems would become much worse. Our advice helps people to resolve these problems, and so get their lives back on track.”

Sheffield Association for the Voluntary Teaching of English will get £34,140. The organisation recruits and trains volunteers to teach English to some of the most isolated people in Sheffield whose first or fluent language is not English. It also boosts the skills of more than 100 volunteers, with a third of last year’s new recruits moving on to paid employment.

Manager Sara Saxon said: “We’re really grateful for the council’s support given the financial climate – not just for the grant but also the professional support and guidance of officers, which has been invaluable. On a personal note, I am proud of our city where people volunteer their time to help others and a council who recognise and support the needs of vulnerable people.”

More than 600 people help run the lunch clubs the council supports. Research has shown a social return of £3.55 for every £1 invested in the clubs.

A new grant fund will be developed for next year with the council be working with the voluntary sector.