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Funding shortfall means the Parents Advice Centre Keighley (PACK) could be axed
A Keighley community centre launched last year and praised by a government minister is facing closure.
Bosses at Parents Advice Centre Keighley (PACK) say major funding is essential for the vital service to survive.
Operations director, John Toothill, said the shortfall was already having a serious impact, forcing the centre to cut back on a planned increase in courses.
He added: “This could lead to potential closure unless some essential funding can be obtained.
“We will continue to try to operate the centre with increased voluntary help and fight to secure further funding.
“We would welcome any offers of help, support or donations from individuals, businesses or other organisations.”
Mr Toothill revealed Bradford Council could not maintain its current funding due to reductions in its own budget.
PACK was officially opened in September last year by immigration minister Damian Green during a ceremony attended by Keighley MP Kris Hopkins and leading local councillors.
Mr Green said such volunteer centres were hugely important, and a perfect example of what Prime Minister David Cameron called the Big Society.
Since then, PACK has run a variety of courses, including parenting, literacy and numeracy, health and IT, as well as hosting job clubs, a music group, advice and counselling services.
Mr Toothill said the Russell Street centre dealt with about 85 personal callers a week, as well as running a busy helpline. And Bradford Council bosses had been impressed during a recent visit.
He said: “They told us it is especially vital at a time when parents are facing increased problems due to the recession, family breakdowns, unemployment and a lower-than-average level of educational achievement.
“The centre frequently receives telephone calls from council departments, other professional organisations and schools requesting us to offer our services to their clients.”
Mr Toothill said PACK had start-up funding of £36,000 a year for three years from various Bradford Council pots, but the money is unlikely to last until March.
Councillor Ralph Berry, the local authority’s member with responsibility for children and young people’s services, visited PACK recently and agreed the centre was providing helpful services.
But the council is having to cope with multi-million-pound cuts in Government funding, particularly for its own services to support parents and children.
He added: “I’m trying to protect our child protection and Sure Start services in Keighley. I can’t go round the district with a cheque-book.”
Mr Hopkins said: “PACK is widely acknowledged to have had a very positive impact in the community.
“I appreciate we are in a period where finances are limited and Bradford Council, like other public bodies, has difficult choices to make. However, organisations that help to improve educational attainment should be prioritised when decisions on funding are made.
“A lot of people will feel very let down if the council cannot find a way to maintain its excellent work in the community.”
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