Hackney Council cuts cash from its own Civic Award winner

Rachel Klien has been coordinating a team of 15 voluntary doulas plus her as coordinator, for over 2

Rachel Klien has been coordinating a team of 15 voluntary doulas plus her as coordinator, for over 22 years - Credit: Archant

The woman celebrated at Hackney Council’s inaugural civic awards for her work helping expectant mothers says a Town Hall funding cut is “like a handshake with one hand and slapping you in the face with the other”.

Rachel Klien, 70, manages 16 doulas (birth companions) at Hansy Josovich to support women in the Orthodox Jewish community around Clapton.

Mrs Klien received one of Hackney’s first civic awards at the Town Hall last week for setting up the service, recognised as “crucial” by 17 senior clinicians from Homerton Hospital.

But Hansy Josovich’s £20,00 grant for administration and training has been withdrawn by the council, which blames the decision on central government cutting millions of pounds from its public health budget.

Mrs Klien said: “It feels a little ironic that the borough which has shown recognition for this longstanding voluntary work has now cut our very modest public health grant.

“I know services are lacking in funding, but it’s short-sighted. It might help short-term but long-term they will have to cut their losses, because our partnership is integral. I don’t think they will manage without us – the reality is the NHS is crucially short of staff and overstretched. If you take into consideration these women work around the clock in a voluntary capacity, it’s small change for what the health service benefits, and it has touched the lives of thousands of people.”

A spokesman for Hackney Council said they “value” the organisation’s work.

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“Our increasingly limited resources have to be focused on the services we’re required to provide by law,” she said.

“We’re having to make many tough decisions to reduce financial support to such local organisations, though we always try to offer other forms of support and advice on funding.”

A Department of Health spokesman said “difficult decisions” needed to be made to reduce the deficit.

“Local authorities have shown that more can be done for less to provide the best value for the taxpayer,” he said. “Like the rest of the public sector, councils will have to continue to play their part in fixing the public finances, to ensure we deliver security for working people across the country.”