Cash crisis closes Barnstaple centre for elderly

A BARNSTAPLE day centre which has been used by elderly residents for more than a decade is to close at the end of this month. The Evergreen Club at Mill Court will end on March 25 because Age Concern Barnstaple, which runs it, says there is simply not eno

A Barnstaple day centre which has been used by elderly residents for more than a decade is to close at the end of this month.

The Evergreen Club at Mill Court will end on March 25 because Age Concern Barnstaple, which runs it, says there is simply not enough money to keep it going.

The 13 remaining club members are mostly in their 80s and several are upset at losing their weekly chance to meet others, socialise and take part in activities.

The charity, which is run by volunteers, is making cuts because of a reduction in its funding from Devon County Council.

Josephine Palmer, who is 83, has been with the club for seven weeks.

"The members are people who really need to get out of the house and go down there, it's a respite for their carers and for them," she said.

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"It gives them a chance to mix with other people. I've only been at the club for seven weeks and now it's been taken away - I suffer from mobility problems and won't be able to go out unless I can get someone to take me.

"It costs me �7.20 a week to go there and we all pay our own expenses, some have said they would pay a bit if it would keep the club going."

But Andrea Scott, director of Age Concern Barnstaple, said it was mostly about finances:

"We are very sorry that the organisation has to withdraw a service," she said on behalf of the trustees of Age Concern Barnstaple.

"Our core service, supporting people in the community and visiting them at home, has to be sustained. We have 230 elderly people out there who rely on us for a weekly service.

"We have to see what we can actually afford and to keep going as long as possible. It's not just us, other Age Concerns in Devon are wondering where the funding will come from in the future.

"All the club members have all been visited in their homes and offered an alternative service. Those who use the transport pay a contribution, but the cost of transport is exorbitant and our budget cannot sustain that.

"We do appreciate people are upset and have enjoyed the club, but it's about sustainable services and meeting the increasing demand of need in our community.

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