Threatened Edinburgh project put their case against cuts and closure

Pilton community Health Project co-ditrectors Jen Richards and Helen Scammell. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
Pilton community Health Project co-ditrectors Jen Richards and Helen Scammell. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
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PROJECTS which help vulnerable people across the Capital will today appeal to councillors and health chiefs to spare the funding axe and help them carry on with their work.

A total of 35 organisations are set to lose the grants they have been receiving from Edinburgh’s Integration Joint Board which is in charge of health and social care for the 
city.

But a protest is due to be held outside the City Chambers ahead of the meeting which is due to approve the cuts. And some of the groups hope to make their case direct to the board.

Leith Labour councillor Gordon Munro called for the board to think again. He said: “The social infrastructure supporting communities survive will be lost . They are still needed and still necessary. These turbo charged cuts from Holyrood need to stop. This would not be happening if Edinburgh had the funding it needs.”

Pilton Community Health Project, the oldest project of its kind in the Capital, has said it will have to close if its £220,000 a year core funding from the EIJB is pulled.

Lothian Labour MSP Kezia Dugdale said: “It would be nothing short of a scandal if this service is taken away from residents in one of the city’s most deprived communities.

“Edinburgh is in the grip of a social care crisis, and the support that PCHP provides is exactly the kind of preventative work that keeps people out of hospital and living well in their own communities. This would have a devastating knock-on impact on NHS Lothian which already faces a major delayed discharge crisis.”

The Community Ability Network Craigmillar, which has been working in the area for 16 years, is another project which would have to close. Project manager Ron Carthy said the community-run advice shop had helped 1881 individuals in the past year and helped people win over £3m in benefits they were entitled to. “We cover most of south-east Edinburgh and most of our work is with people in areas of real deprivation.”

Also facing the axe is Local Opportunities for Older People, which aims to help connect older people with information and opportunities in their community.

Anne Munro, manager of the Pilmeny Development Project, which runs the service in the North East locality, said: “It’s about preventing people needing to go into hospital or helping them once they come out to reconnect with the community, offering activities, services and the confidence to go out and about again.

“Over 1700 folk in this area will lose out and these are some of the most vulnerable people in the community.”

She said similar funding for the LOOP project in the other three localities of the city was also due to be withdrawn, with a similar number of people affected in each of them.

“We’ve spent years developing all this. Once you let all these organisations go they cannot be re-established. You will have more people ending up in hospital earlier.”

Funding is also set to be withdrawn from Nari Kallyan Shangho (NKS), a health and welfare organisation for South Asian and other ethnic minority communities.

Manager Naina Minhas said: “NKS provides crucial services to the ethnic minority communities addressing pressing needs around physical and mental health and well-being. The organisation is visited by approximately 150 people every week to use a range of services provided by us. Without core funding we have a very bleak future.”

The EIJB has said it received 152 bids for grants totalling £31m while the funding available was £14m.

EIJB chair Councillor Ricky Henderson said the recommendations on which projects should receive grants had followed “a robust and well thought out application and assessment process” and an independent chair moderating the allocation programme, “ensuring objective and impartial decisions”.

He said: “This is a new process for allocating grants which I strongly believe meets our strategic objectives for providing health and social care services across Edinburgh.”

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.co.uk