Hundreds protest as Sheffield-based adult learning organisations warn they are under threat

Community organisations which offer educational classes, advice sessions and food bank referrals say they are at risk after changes to their funding.

By Lucy Ashton, Local Democracy Reporter
Wednesday, 4th August 2021, 10:17 am

Adult learning organisations have relied on funding for the last 15 years so they can help people learn basic skills and update their CVs in local, community based venues.

But a new tender process is “extremely different” to previous ones as there is no longer core funding for learning champions.

The champions arrange courses, enrol people and support them during and after the classes. They also help people overcome barriers, such as sorting childcare or arranging a bus pass.

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Heeley Trust Community Hub.

Heeley Trust Community Hub, on behalf of the organisations, says at least 19 members of staff who are key figures in community adult learning are at risk of redundancy.

And the most vulnerable members of communities will be hit as they depend on these organisations for education and access to vital services.

The Trust has started a petition which has been signed by 330 people.

It says: “The proposed changes to this funding will result in the loss of jobs, lack of classes designed in conjunction with, and to support, local people and a potential loss of community organisations that are able to give information, advice and guidance.

“Other services such as childcare, food bank referrals and drop-in sessions are all at risk if this goes ahead.”

Sheffield Council said it was now operating under a new set of funding rules set out by Sheffield City Region under devolution.

Coun Paul Turpin, Executive member for skills, said: “There have been no cuts to the budget but we now must work with the budget in a new way.

“We understand the concerns of community organisations around these changes, but we remain committed to working with them to deliver these important services.

“We will be meeting with these organisations shortly to discuss the options and devise a way forward.

“In the meantime, I would like to reassure our communities that we’ll do all that we can to continue to support and advocate for community-based education now and in the future.”