Waltham Forest disabled children’s charity has funding slashed

A CHARITY which helps some of the borough’s most vulnerable and severely disabled children is to have its funding slashed, provoking outrage among parents.

Barnardo’s Hamara Family Project provides a wide variety of services for young people aged up to 19 and also gives respite care and support for their families.

But it is having to massively scale back its activities following a 66 per cent reduction in grants from Waltham Forest Council.

The authority says it is introducing changes to provide a range of services from multiple organisations instead and that it “does not envisage” this will lead to a reduction in the overall level of support for disabled children.

But parents say Hamara’s expertise and years of experience cannot be delivered as effectively by other groups.

The Herbert family, of Chester Road in Walthamstow, receives help for their nine-year-old autistic son Charlie.

Dad Danny Herbert, 43, said: “I’m very, very angry. We have been let down in the past by the council’s children’s social services and other providers, but Hamara have been by far the best in giving us the support we need.

“They are all highly trained people and they’re brilliant at what they do. Hamara have a woman who comes and takes Charlie on days out and it’s been amazing how she’s helped develop his confidence.

“We also get support in so many other ways such as the sibling support group for our five-year-old daughter and the dad’s group I go to, but both are being scrapped.”

He added: “What makes me furious is the council are cutting funding to the vulnerable while they’re increasing it for street cleaning.

“The Government are failing in their duty of care but Waltham Forest Council is completely complicit in it.”

Fellow parent Clare Grego, 37, of Billet Road in Walthamstow has a 12-year-old son with autism who also uses the service.

She said: “[council leader] Chris Robbins said he was going to protect the vulnerable but that is clearly a load of rubbish.”

The council’s cabinet member for children and young people, Cllr Saima Mahmud, said the council would continue to fund Hamara services “which are well used by families” until September.

She added: “we do not envisage a reduction in services after September and are working to provide an even better variety of short breaks (respite) for disabled children.”

Barnardo’s says it is working with the council to try and limit the impact of the funding reduction.