Closure of day care centre hits elderly

FUNDING cuts and rising costs have forced a leading charity that cares for the elderly to close a much loved day centre in west Suffolk.

Age Concern Suffolk says it can no longer afford the �8,000 annual costs to support the Chilton Companions Club in Sudbury and will now have to close it at the end of July.

The news came as a shattering blow to both the pensioners who visit the centre every Wednesday for a meal and some company and the charity’s staff and volunteers.

Describing her sadness at the impending closure, Daphne Savage, chief executive of Suffolk Age Concern, also gave a dire prediction on the future of elderly care in the region.

“We were left with no choice,” she said. “We looked at options for a way of dealing with this but it turned out to be very difficult. We tried to find alternative venues but when we looked at Sudbury, unlike many other towns, there wasn’t really anything.”

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A lack of funding for the charity and a �3,000 rent increase on the property in Martins Road was behind the decision.

Mrs Savage said the country was facing a crisis in how it would care for the elderly in the future, and Suffolk, as one of the most elderly populated counties, could suffer most.

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Jeremy Thatcher’s 94-year-old mother Kate regularly visits the day centre in Chilton. Having already seen the town’s Friday Club and Stour Valley Lunch Club close he said it was a bitter blow for his mother who now had nowhere left to go.

Mr Thatcher, of Church Road, Bulmer, said: “It’s the company she will miss. When you’re older but still healthy, motivation and sociability is so important.”

Mrs Savage said: “We are a rapidly ageing population and Suffolk is above the national average with the number of people over 80 expected to double in the next 10 years.”

She said Age Concern was hoping residents or a community group would step forward with a venue before the Companions Club closed on July 28.

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