A CHARITY that helps transform the lives of disabled children in the Capital is facing closure – after the council changed its provision on funding.
Kindred, which has been running for the last 26 years, provides information, services and emotional support that parents need to care for their children to their best ability for 1,000 families each year.
The charity had been receiving £46,000 per year from Edinburgh City Council to provide its vital helpline service, with the remaining funds, totalling around £206,000, coming from various grants.
The council funding is set to expire at the end of March. However, Edinburgh Council has now included funding for the helpline within a larger £1.2 million contract up for tender, which means in order to apply, the charity would have to supply additional services it says it can’t provide.
The charity, which employs 18 people, says without the contract it will no longer be able to operate, with two members of staff already being made redundant with three further to follow.
Director Sophie Pilgrim said: “We provide an incredible service and it is heartbreaking to think we may close. The money to fund the helpline makes up 40 per cent of our cost to run, which is massive.
“Parents come to us with a wide range of issues including care and education. Our service is run by parents who understand what callers are going through, which helps us when it comes to giving out advice.”
Kindred has been unable to locate other funds, meaning an exit strategy has had to be created in case the worst possible scenario occurs.
Ms Pilgrim said: “This is scandalous. The council wants one provider for all the services within this new tender.
“This is the first time the services all come under one contract and we were unable to apply for it as we couldn’t take on the other services and responsibility as we don’t have the experience in those fields.”
She is now calling for the parent information service helpline to be taken out of the £1.2m tender so Kindred can bid to continue its services, which also include teams at Edinburgh’s Sick Children’s Hospital, in Glasgow helping families dealing with complex and life-limiting conditions, and a community team in Fife.
She said: “No-one would be able to provide the service we provide. We prevent a lot of families from breaking down. Kindred is irreplaceable.
“We have scraped the bottom of the barrel and we can’t find anymore funding. If the city council could help us it would give us the opportunity to try and save Kindred.”
An online petition (http://bit.ly/2Aw3guT) has been created with more than 700 signatures so far. Families are protesting outside the City Chambers at 2pm on Friday and will hand in the petition.
A City of Edinburgh Council spokesperson said: “The open tender for this new service was produced after input from both service users and providers. This valuable stakeholder engagement helped inform the specification and highlighted the need for a ‘one service’ philosophy with providers working together to improve services for children and their families.
“This opportunity was openly advertised for all interested parties and collaborative bids between third sector organisations were encouraged, with extra time being allowed for the process. The outcome of the tender process is still to be determined.”