Belfast Telegraph

44 Extern' social care jobs at risk due to Northern Ireland political crisis

By Noel McAdam

More than 40 staff in Belfast's family support service have been put on protective notice because of Stormont's growing Budget crisis.

All 44 of Extern's intensive family support service staff stand to lose their jobs by the end of March unless funding can be secured.

The project has worked with more than 500 families since it was set up almost three years ago.

One member of staff said: "Although this is personally very difficult, I am more concerned with the devastating effect this will have on the families and communities we support."

Nipsa official Catherine Arkinson said: "If this project ceases to exist due to the lack of funding from Stormont it will place an intolerable strain on social care across Belfast.

"Although the office itself is based in north Belfast, the Belfast intensive family support service has proven to be vital for the whole of Belfast.

"The project currently delivers intensive support to 235 families each year in Belfast and since its inception in April 2014 (until December 31, 2016) they have worked with 515 families comprising 1,188 children and 826 adults."

Nipsa, the largest public sector union in the province, said it believed that management have been and continue to do all in their power to retain this key service.

The union said it was up to ministers across the relevant sponsoring departments to guarantee the funding so that the project does not end.

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