Protest petitions over cuts

Councillor Colin Ross, Sheffield City Council cabinet member for employment, enterprise and development.
Councillor Colin Ross, Sheffield City Council cabinet member for employment, enterprise and development.
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PETITIONS have been presented to Sheffield Council opposing cuts which could affect study support workers for young people and a mental health support group.

University students Yasar Mohamed and Muna Abdi, who benefited from the support workers who help teenagers with their school work, spoke on behalf of 1,080 signatories opposing cuts to the service.

Yasar, from Burngreave, said: “If it wasn’t for the support I received, I wouldn’t have got through my GCSEs or gone to college. Now I’m at university studying to be a youth and community worker.”

Muna, also from Burngreave, added: “Hundreds of young people have been helped, particularly from ethnic minorities. The loss of study support would leave vulnerable young people without a resource that not only provides the academic support they need to reach their potential but also a better alternative to otherwise more accessible activities such as gangs and drugs.”

Scott Mills, treasurer of Sheffield Mental Health Action Group - which provides support for mental patients in the community - also presented a 519-signature petition objecting to changes to funding arrangements.

The plans will see organisations invited to bid for a commission to provide specific services for the council rather than apply for funding.

Mr Mills said: “Over 20 years, we have helped thousands of people.

“The council is inviting bids for the service we provide and we will be up against big national charities with more resources.

“We don’t have the experience or finances to compete.”

Coun Colin Ross, council cabinet member for children’s services, said of the support workers’ petition: “We are in a discussion about how we can continue the study support scheme.

“The budget has been transferred for schools to manage and we are now working with schools so they can continue.”

Council deputy leader Coun David Baker said of Mental Health Action Group’s concerns: “We are very conscious of the fact small organisations are concerned about competition with large organisations.

“We are looking to ensure the criteria we use to decide on service providers will include a need for local knowledge, to help local organisations.”