Disability group fights to survive

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DISABLED residents are fighting to keep a social group running after its funding was withdrawn.

Members of the Southgate Group, in Bury St Edmunds, took charge of the organisation from Suffolk County Council this week.

They are now appealing for new members to join the physical disability group to secure its future.

Treasurer Jacqualine Sweny, 58, of Bury, said: “It’s been hard work to take it on but I’m just going to fight for it. We don’t want this place to close as it’s important for a lot of people.”

The group, which has been running for 26 years, gives disabled residents the chance to socialise and enjoy activities such as water colour painting, knitting, cross stitching and tapestries.

Based at the Southgate Centre, in Caie Walk, the group used to run three days a week but now meets every Tuesday from 9am to 4.30pm. Members are asked to pay £10 a day to attend.

Mrs Sweny, who suffers from arthritis and a damaged spine, said: “It allows people to get away from the home and meet people with similar kinds of problems to discuss things.”

Another member Nicolette Finch, 49, of Bury, who is a paraplegic, added: “People may need time away from the family situation. It’s a way of getting out and being with other like minded people.

“We used to go on trips and have people doing demonstrations. We’ve got people within the group who are talented and can teach people.”

On Tuesday, the group relaunched with eight members.

Mrs Sweny added: “At our peak we used to have about 60 members but over the years people have moved areas and we haven’t had referrals from social workers for a couple of years.

“We want to let people know we’re here and we want to get new members.

“In the early days we’re going to have to keep it in class and we’re doing a lot of arts and crafts.

“It’s been scary taking it on when you see all the bits and pieces that are involved in it.

“It’s going to be hard work but it’s going to be worth it.”

Anyone who is interested in joining the group should contact Nicolette Finch on (01284) 701081.