Bromley poised to axe volunteer child protection scheme

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A high profile, Big Society-style scheme under which volunteers work in child protection is coming under threat as a result of local government budget cuts.

Bromley Council’s Volunteers in Child Protection (ViCP) scheme may come to an end as the council has proposed axing its £38,000 annual funding.

Bromley’s initiative has, in the past, been endorsed by children’s minister Tim Loughton as an example of Big Society in action within social work. Professor Eileen Munro, in her review of child protection in England, has also been tasked with investigating further the issue of volunteers in children’s social work, though she has not so far mentioned it in either of her reports.

Bromley’s programme, run by the charity Community Service Volunteers (CSV), matches volunteers with families and children on protection plans to give practical advice and support.

While the final budget will not be decided until 14 February, families in Bromley are protesting against the move. “Families that have had a volunteer have written to Bromley council to try to get them to reconsider the decision,” a CSV spokesperson told Community Care.

Leader of the council Stephen Carr said: “As we consider the potential savings set out in this draft report we must not forget that we have been forced to respond to a massive national deficit, a legacy inherited by the present government. We are working together to address a financial situation we have not seen in our lifetime.”

Originally a three-year pilot in two local authorities in 2004, the ViCP scheme now runs in the London boroughs of Bromley, Lewisham and Islington, and in Southend-on-Sea.

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