NSPCC defends local centre closures

The NSPCC has denied reports that the jobs of many of its child protection workers are at risk and has claimed it will take on 200 additional frontline staff, most of them social workers.

While the children’s charity is closing a number of its local centres throughout England, Wes Cuell, director of services for children and families, told Community Care this was due to redistribution of resources rather than cutbacks.

“We’re in about 100 locations around the country and over a three-year period we hope to bring that down to about 50 much larger centres,” he said. “In most cases, that means we will be closing a building, not a service.”

Cuell said most local centres consisted of one manager and five to six staff, but new centres, located in urban locations such as Birmingham, Newcastle and Sheffield, would house 25 core staff members and support workers.

“It’s true, we did some downsizing in 2008-9 because like many organisations we didn’t know what the credit crunch would mean for us. But our income has held up very well. We’re not doing this to save money, we’re doing it to redirect the money we’ve got.”

Derbyshire is one of the areas where the NSPCC is closing a local centre. Derbyshire Council said that while it was “disappointing” that the charity would no longer have a presence in the area, there would be little impact on services.

“The move won’t impact the services we provide because our involvement in child abuse cases is at a much earlier stage,” a council spokesperson said.

“We relied on the NSPCC to provide post-abuse support to children. It will mean other service providers within the Derbyshire safeguarding partnership will need to provide these services instead.”

The Guardian newspaper claimed this week that it had obtained internal NSPCC documents outlining a “widespread cull of services across the country”.

It also said the charity’s new chief executive, Andrew Flanagan, had been critical of the its high profile Full Stop campaign, and had told staff they would have to admit that “we may never get” to end child cruelty.

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