Council budget cut sees closure of city drop-in centre

Coun Jackie Drayton
Coun Jackie Drayton
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A SHEFFIELD centre providing families with help and information has closed its doors for the last time after its parent organisation had its budget slashed by the council.

Sheffield Information Link’s drop-in shop on Leopold Street will no longer be able to help families looking for advice on health, education, disability and employment issues.

The charity has been running for 24 years and handled nearly 15,000 inquiries each year, helping almost 4,500 families.

Its budget for last year was around £700,000, with most of the funding coming from the city council and a smaller amount provided by Sheffield Children’s Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

The services it provides have to be delivered by law and council officers have told SIL that some of their work will be transferred to the authority’s main call centre. Other functions may be stopped completely after September.

SIL’s budget has been cut by 29 per cent as the council seeks to save money and has raised question marks over the entire future of the organisation.

Chief executive Sharron Baroudi said her team and customers were devastated at the loss of the drop-in centre.

“Our service is highly valued by the city’s families. Our well known location allowed people to access our specialist services when it suited them while they were in the city centre,” she said.

“We are being told that frontline services won’t be cut but how much more frontline could you get?

“We were here to help with a wide range of expertise that cannot be found elsewhere; desperate people would come and see us because they knew we would have the answers – where will they go now?”

A council spokeswoman said a new phone service was now in place with a face-to- face service beginning in September.

Julie Bullen, director of customer services for the city council, said: “This is about delivering a better service in the most cost effective way possible.

“This is a direct response to what customers have told us about how they want us to deliver services.”