THE ‘Big Society’ will be ‘wiped out’ by cuts affecting thousands of vulnerable families, charity bosses have warned.

Leaders of 15 of the biggest charitable organisations in Blackburn and Darwen have teamed up in an unprecedented step to outline their fears.

They have signed a joint letter to government in which they spell out how their charities are facing ‘devastating’ cuts of more than 50 per cent and being forced to make staff redundant.

Support networks for carers, elderly people, drug addicts, vulnerable women and teenage pregnancy advice services will all be affected, they say. They say the council could not be blamed.

The letter says: “We have been growing the Big Society for over 20 years. The severity of the public sector cuts threatens to wipe out everything that has been achieved in one stroke.

“It feels like...the most vulnerable communities in the country are shouldering the burden of a national problem that has its root cause in the City.”

And they invite Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles to visit Blackburn with Darwen to see the many good projects that are “likely to disappear.”

The Department for Communities and Local Government said councils should find ‘back office’ savings and axe ‘non jobs’ before cutting the front line.

Blackburn with Darwen Council said the level of cut s – around a quarter of its budget – left councillors with no choice.

Yesterday the signatories to the letter described their plight.

Cuts of 80 per to The Women’s Centre mean it may have to stop working with half the 750 needy women on its books.

Manager Sarah Swindley said it would be turning away ‘some of the most vulnerable families’ in the area.

Blackburn with Darwen Healthy Living, which works in the poorest communities to improve eating and exercise, faces losing 60 per cent of its funding. At Child Action North West, 32 of 76 workers are at risk of redundancy.

Chief John Tempest said its turnover would reduce by £1million. Its work in schools to identify vulnerable children will have to scaled back.

Janice Parker, of Darwen-based Jubilee Tower Credit Union, said more people would use doorstep money lenders who charge huge levels of interest, or fall into the hands of loan sharks.

Ms Parker said: “We are the perfect example of the Big Society – local people delivering a service for local people.”

But there has been a 28 per cent cut in a crucial contract with the council, and regular sessions at children’s centres are at risk.

Nightsafe, which works with the homeless, is facing a £70,000 cut. And the Older People’s Forum faces losing up to £35,000.

To read the full letter, click on the link below.