Fears for elderly service as funding is removed

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THE chairman of an elderly persons’ charity has said he fears for its future after council funding was put in doubt.

John Morgan, chairman of Age Concern Thetford and District, which provides shopping and transport assistance to up to 150 people a week, said the removal of £18,700 from Norfolk County Council would leave users without alternatives.

The council has written to the charity to extend its funding that was due to end in March, but could not guarantee it beyond October.

Mr Morgan said: “We have got enough to carry on till October but after that we could get to the point where we would have to stop.”

The money is being withdrawn as Age Concern’s users are not labelled ‘critical’ by the council.

But Mr Morgan felt it would pay more in the long run.

“We understand that they are caught in the middle – they have to make cuts.

“But we feel they are being short-sighted because it’s going to accelerate the time in which elderly people will have to go to the council with more serious and costly problems.

“Our advice last year saved people £100,000 – I don’t think that’s a bad return on £18,700,” he said.

Age Concern Thetford and District is not connected to any larger organisation, with its running costs last year totalling around £35,000.

That money pays for five part-time staff as well as various liability and transport costs.Several volunteers supplement the part-time staff.

Its services include picking up otherwise stranded residents from satellite villages such as Mundford and East Harling and taking them into Thetford so they can do some shopping.

Staff are also on hand to give out advice on issues such as eligibility for benefits.

Mr Morgan said they would be looking to the private sector and charitable benefactors to fill the shortfall in funding.

A spokesman for Norfolk County Council said: “Because we are reviewing the way services are provided, we cannot confirm at present whether the contract will be extended further.

“We have and continue to value the work Age Concern Thetford and District does in the area.”