Belfast Telegraph

Sure Start staff to keep their jobs... at least for now

The jobs of 50 workers at South Belfast Sure Start have been secured for another year, the organisation has announced.

Earlier this week all of its workers were issued with protective redundancy notices due to uncertainty around funding for the education sector in the absence of a functioning Executive.

In a statement the organisation has said: "We are delighted to say that a way forward was found to confirm that Sure Start will get its funding for the remainder of this year.

"At this time, the Department can only confirm 96% of our funding but we are working with them and political representatives in South Belfast to ensure we get our full allocation so that there are no cuts to staff or services.

"We would like to thank all the parents and friends of Sure Start who have shown their support over the last week and the staff team who have continued working and doing their jobs despite having this threat hanging over their heads."

The confirmation that funding will continue has come after a meeting this morning between representatives from Sure Start, including managers and chair Eleanor Jordan, and the Permanent Secretary of the Department of Education, Derek Baker.

The meeting was also attended by DUP MLA Christopher Stalford MLA, who assisted in setting up the meeting, and DUP MP for South Belfast Emma Little Pengelly.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph prior to the meeting, the organisation's chair Eleanor Jordan said that the cut in funding would have serious implications, and that a 4% cut in funding last year meant reduced hours for its coordinator and senior staff.

Ms Jordan said that the group were still "deeply concerned" about these cuts.

Sure Start supports the families of around 1,600 infants and young children up to the age of four, with around half of these using the organisation each week.

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