Stoke-on-Trent ‘lifeline’ service faces axe as council looks to save £294k


A ‘lifeline’ service which has co-ordinated much-needed food deliveries during the coronavirus pandemic is set to be disbanded – to save council cash.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council says ‘decommissioning’ the My Community Matters service and bringing it in-house will save £294,000 over the next three years and result in no job losses at the authority.

But four members of staff are employed by the service which is currently run by the Stoke-based Changes Health and Wellbeing charity.

My Community Matters has been commissioned by the council since 2009 when it was known as My Health Matters. It contract is due to end in July.

Now the issue is set to be debated at a council meeting on Thursday, January 14.

From top left, Community Matters staff; Iona Jones, Lisa Tomkinson, Gill Jones, Dan Lyttleton

Community development worker Lisa Tomkinson said: “We help over 100 people and families by supporting them to bring about positive change in their areas. We help community groups to get set up, like Middleport Matters.

“It’s all resident-led and during the pandemic we’ve set up food delivery services and a befriending service which has been a lifeline to people stuck in because they really need that conversation when they’re alone. We help to combat isolation and loneliness.

“I don’t know if the council service would be the same, only they know that. But we worry that if the service is brought in-house by the council, they won’t have that same level of personal contact, people won’t feel as connected, and we will lose all those relationships and that trust we have built with people in the community.”

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The council is currently consulting on its 2021/22 budget. It includes £14.4 million of budget cuts and a 4.99 per cent council tax hike.

A council report states: “The proposal is to decommission the service and support the future delivery of a range of public health priorities through the community development team.”

The public consultation runs until February 14, with the budget due to be approved at full council on February 25. To have your say, visit www.stoke.gov.uk/budget2021

My Community Matters staff want concerned residents to comment in support of their service using the reference: CMS08-2122.





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