Vital Glasgow service for lone parents in jeopardy

Nicole Weinstein
Wednesday, September 2, 2020

A lifeline charity for single parents in Glasgow faces a perilous future after its application for funding was rejected, pending a vote by councillors on Thursday (3 September).

Clyde Arch, Glasgow
Clyde Arch, Glasgow

One Parent Families Scotland’s (OPFS) flagship local service has received an annual grant from Glasgow City Council for the past 14 years but this year it has been turned down for the £90,000 a year grant that it applied for.

OPFS was informed by e-mail on Friday (28 August) that funding will cease in September, in light of recommendations made on the council’s new Glasgow Communities Fund, previously the Integrated Glasgow Fund. It is one of 136
charities and agencies that have been rejected for any support by the new fund, the list of which was tweeted by Paul Sweeney, ex Labour & Co-operative MP for Glasgow North East on Monday. 

Glasgow City Council said that the new fund is designed to be more accessible to a greater number of community organisations across the city. Councillors will be voting on a final decision on Thursday.

The raft of cuts which will affect many voluntary providers across Glasgow, including Early Years Scotland, Children’s Health Scotland, and Buddies, which has been working in Glasgow since 1994 and supports 180 families.

Chief executive of OPFS Satwat Rehman described the news as a ‘major blow’. She said, ‘The Covid-19 virus pandemic is still creating a unique challenge for single parents and their children, as they depend on one income and don’t have the support of another adult in the home to share childcare and parenting responsibilities. We believe the expertise and experience of our community-based services will be vital in the recovery effort that lies ahead.

‘In the hardest of times, our service in Glasgow has risen to the challenges thrown at us and involved parents in all our work. To weather the worst and rebuild, we need this kind of community-minded approach which is tailored to single parents’ particular needs. We, and the parents we work with, are dismayed that now, when families need it most, our vital Glasgow services face drastic cuts.’

Distressed parents who rely on support from the service to keep their head above water have been in touch with OPFS asking if the services will be cut. The organisation is urging parents and supporters to contact local councillors to ask them to push for the cuts to be rejected.

An OPFS spokesperson told Nursery World, ‘All of the work that the council, statutory services and the third sector have done to alleviate the poverty that vulnerable members of our communities face is being unravelled in front of our eyes.’

Four in ten families in Glasgow are single parent families, the highest rate in Scotland. Children living in a single parent family are twice as likely to be living in poverty and OPFS says the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown has increased poverty, anxiety and distress. Over the last six months, OPFS Glasgow has extended a range of support to 1,423 single parent households and claims this has made financial gains for those families in excess of £582,000. This includes:

  • Delivering 4,949 lunch packs and food parcels, food vouchers and essentials to 1,260 children and babies during lockdown worth £40,000.
  • Giving benefits and debt advice to 372 single parent families putting almost £500,000 into families’ income.
  • Assisting 837 families with energy costs amounting to £41,614 for families who couldn’t afford the cost of heating their home or cooking.
  • Giving crisis support to ensure the health and wellbeing of 833 parents and 1,333 children.
  • Giving 590 single parents telephone and on-line advice on issues such as child maintenance, separating from your partner and child contact and residence issues.

A spokesman from Glasgow City Council said, ‘Demand for grant support has been exceptional – with applications received for well over double the total value of the fund. Unfortunately, this was always going to mean disappointment for some organisations with applications that scored less highly during assessment.

He added, ‘Decisions on citywide grants will be made at committee later this week – followed by a further round of local awards.’

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