Cuts force 'lifeline' charity supporting female offenders to close

Turning Point 218 will close its doors in February 2024 after its budget was slashed by more than 50%.

A lifeline service supporting female offenders to rebuild their lives after drug and alcohol use is to close after almost two decades in Glasgow due to budget cuts.

Turning Point 218 will close its doors in February 2024 after Glasgow City Council offered the service a maximum £650,000 budget, slashed from £1.37m which had previously been agreed.

Turning Point Scotland’s (TPS) 218 service helps address issues with substance use, physical and mental health and other social needs including housing and childcare initiatives that female offenders face.

It provides an alternative to custody for women in the justice system and has been working with the health board, Glasgow courts and the city council since 2005.

In September it announced that it was facing compulsory job losses and closure after a reduction in funding from both the Scottish Government and Glasgow City Council.

The service was originally a 12-bed residential unit and day programme however, a review by the Glasgow Health and Social Care Partnership (GHSCP) recently included reducing the bed capacity from 12 to eight women.

Patrick McKay, TPS’s director of operations said he was “deeply saddened” by the outcome and “the impact this will have on the vulnerable women” it supports.

TPS had previously participated in a review of the 218 service with Glasgow City HSPC and an agreed service specification with a budget for the service of £1.37m for the service to run with eight beds.

However, in September it was told by the council that the budget had been slashed and 218 would only qualify for £650,000 – less than half of the agreed amount.

Turning Point then decided not to bid for the tender because it said it could not operate the residential unit on the proposed amount.

Mr McKay said: “Following this review, an ‘accommodation with support – female residential service’ tender was released with an approximate 50% cut to a maximum of £650,000. 

“TPS had no prior knowledge of Glasgow City HSCP intention to cut the budget for the service by approximately 50%. From reading the service specification within the ongoing tender it was our understanding that the service would still provide eight beds.

“TPS took the difficult decision to not bid for the tender as the residential provision as configured could not be delivered.”

A spokeswoman for Glasgow’s Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) said: “A retendering process for the service resulted in no one bidding for the women’s residential service.

“Officers have been in discussions with Turning Point who have advised they will be closing the current service in February 2024.

“We will now undertake a review of future provision of this service.”

Mr McKay added: “Following the HSCP’s unsuccessful tender process, Glasgow City HSCP requested TPS to keep the 218 service running until June 2024 but due to operational risks, TPS has made the difficult decision to propose the closure of 218 in February 2024.

“Turning Point Scotland are deeply saddened by this outcome and the impact this will have on the vulnerable women we support.

“Our HR Team and management team will now prioritise support to all staff within the service.”

Linda Wilson, Unite the union’s industrial officer said: “It’s devastating for our members who are finding out just before Christmas that they’re losing their jobs.

“The effect that it will have on the service users is that there will be nowhere for them to turn.

“The alternative to the 218 service is a return to the justice system, and ultimately through the prison gates.”

The Scottish Government has been contacted for comment.

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