Boost for county’s elderly

A NEW scheme aimed at cutting social service costs for Suffolk County Council is being rolled out this year.

But there was a warning from the opposition that costs were still uncertain at a time when the county is facing a serious cash shortage.

The “Suffolk Circle” is being set up by a company which has already set up the “Southwark Circle” in south London.

It aims to provide services for anyone aged over 50 across the county for a fixed fee. That can include household help, DIY tasks, social events, or even a trip to the shops. It is due to start operating in September with members able to sign up for �10 a year. They will be able to buy “tokens” which can be exchanged for services or social events.

Colin Noble, councillor with responsibility for adult services, said the establishment of the Suffolk Circle was a long-term programme aimed at reducing the isolation felt by many older people.

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He said: “We hope that in the long term – and this is a long-term project – the Suffolk Circle will reduce the demand for county council services.”

The county has entered into a partnership with social enterprise company Participle, which operates the Southwark Circle.

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Daniel Dickens, managing director of The Southwark Circle, said he was looking forward to helping with the Suffolk project and the first job would be to appoint a managing director here. He said: “There is a strong sense of community in the county and we hope to build on that.”

However,opposition leader Kathy Pollard had some serious concerns .

She said: “The principle is fine, but we don’t really know why they’ve called in an London organisation when there are groups here who already know the area like Age Concern and Suffolk Family Carers.

“Overall there are a lot of questions about this that still haven’t really been addressed.”

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