HUNDREDS of families have hit out at Renfrewshire Council after it was revealed funding for a “vital” support service could be stopped in as little as three months.

Families First Renfrewshire, which has bases right across the area, provides extra support to families in crisis and to parents who struggle to cope on their own.

But sites in Johnstone, Foxbar and Gallowhill now face collapse after bosses learned funding will not continue, subject to any further budget decisions by the council.

Staff now fear for their jobs and families are panicking they may have nowhere to turn during hard times.

The organisation is wholly funded by the council, and bosses have argued the teams in these areas were established through temporary funding and a decision on whether to extend that is due in March.

Around 300 people have signed an online petition to try and save the services, arguing they are “the heart of the community”.

Mum-of-three Heather Morrison, who lives in Johnstone and uses the service, said her son suffers from behavioural issues and doesn’t know what she would do without Families First.

She said: “I use the service to help me with my kids. My son, who is my middle child, has got some problems with his behaviour. He’s behind other children his age in his development.

“Staff have helped build my confidence as a parent and I am raging they face having their funding cut. I also have a social worker and they are great but it’s not the same as Families First. They’re so much more pragmatic.

“I am absolutely gutted because this is a vital service. I don’t know where I’d be without them.”

Families First also has bases in Linwood and Ferguslie, which will not be affected.

The organisation is there for families who are struggling emotionally, financially and physically and provides help and advice in areas such as budgeting, school, eating well, keeping fit and childcare.

Councillor Derek Bibby, ward representative, said it was “inconceivable” for the service to close.

He said: “I will be putting forward a demand for the council to ensure that funding continues to be provided beyond the end of March.

“Providing the best start in life for Renfrewshire’s children is one of the top priorities for all of us.

“It is inconceivable that the service should end and that the families in Johnstone be abandoned.”

A spokeswomen for Families First said: “We have been advised our service will not be funded beyond March 2018, subject to any further budget decision taken by the council.

“I want to assure everyone, their families and their communities their needs will continue to be our priority and we will continue to provide them with the best possible service we can.”

A Renfrewshire Council spokesperson told The Gazette: “The Families First teams in Gallowhill, Johnstone and Foxbar were established through temporary funding, which is scheduled to end in March 2018.

“Any decision on the possible extension of the funding for these services will be considered as part of the council’s budget planning early next year.”