Hammersmith and Fulham’s only day centre for the homeless and mentally ill is under threat due to spending cuts and changed to the benefits system in the borough.
The Baron’s Court Project provides care and support for some of the most vulnerable people in the borough. It has been operating since 1985.
For the third year in a row, tightening financial constraints on government spending have resulted in smaller grants from the Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham and the NHS. The annual income for 2014 was just £185,754, meaning a 20% loss in funding since 2013.
Project leader Michael Angus describes the Project as now being “heavily reliant on raising money from trusts and other grant making bodies to meet the shortfall”, and is disappointed that this year the Project’s main aim is solely to raise funds to provide the basic core costs to run the service.
Cuts to the service’s funding from the borough has forced them to discontinue a podiatry service, and volunteers have joined the staff team to allow the Project to meet service users’ needs, after a staff member was made redundant.
New changes to the benefits system have had a big impact on the Project, with the majority of service users asking for help with appeals, medical assessments and forms, thus creating the need for extra staff.
The increasing cost of living has also added extra financial strain to the Project, as many of the service users cannot meet the basic cost of living. Although the Project provides as much assistance as possible from their “Hardship Fund”, Angus says that the project now relies largely on donations from the public to help “cover the costs and cover the deficit”.
The project’s loss of funding will greatly impact on the vulnerable people who use the service. Janet Warwick, 34 said “I have been coming here a long time. I would be lost without the project.”