Southampton council chiefs have handed a reprieve to a vital lifeline for young carers across the city that had faced the axe.
Talks at Southampton City Council late last night ended with council bosses vowing to save the city’s Young Carers Project as they worked out where to spend an extra £5m they had unexpectedly received from the Government.
Campaigners fighting to save the project were over the moon to hear the news, with one describing it as “like winning the lottery”.
As reported in the Daily Echo, Southampton Voluntary Services’ (SVS) Young Carers Project, which gives respite to 120 children who care for others at home, faced losing its entire £89,000 grant under the council’s proposed budget cuts.
But an unexpected extra £5m from Government has allowed the Labour-run council to reassess and bosses were last night deciding which services would benefit from the cash.
Councillors emerged from the meeting knowing they would have to return next Monday to finish what they had started but they were able to confirm that some decisions had been made.
Finance boss Cllr Simon Letts told the Daily Echo: “We have made some decisions but we will be meeting again next week to finalise the details. We have decided on four themes where the money will be spent though, and these include alleviating poverty and boosting the Southampton economy.
“We will also listen to the people of Southampton and make some adjustments to our proposals, as well as putting the money where a case has been made and this includes the Young Carers Project. The exact details are yet to be drawn up, but I can confirm that they will be given a substantial part of their grant, well in excess of 80 per cent.”
This sparked celebration among the leaders and families who have fought tirelessly to save the project.
Jo Ash, chief executive officer of SVS, said: “This is really good news as it just makes the whole thing more manageable and means we can keep a substantial part of the service going.”
Emma Bennett’s eldest daughter Natasha, 13, is one of the children who rely on the project as she helps to look after her younger sister, Kiera, who suffers from a rare genetic disease.
Emma added: “It is like winning the lottery. It is absolutely fantastic and there will be so many children and parents who will be so much happier knowing this vital service has been saved.”