‘Desperate need’ – Stretched public services call on charity volunteers help people in rural Suffolk

Hour Community volunteers take care home residents on outings using their fleet of 'trishaws' Pictur

Hour Community volunteers take care home residents on outings using their fleet of 'trishaws' Picture: HOUR COMMUNITY - Credit: Archant

Public service are increasingly turning to charities for support in rural Suffolk – amid growing demands and stretched finances.

Nick Corke, who runs Hour Community in Framlingham, said more than a dozen organisations had approached the charity in recent months, including social services and Ipswich Hospital.

Hour Community was set up as a by Framlingham Rotary Club in 2011 and has grown into a charity with more than 40 volunteers providing services in rural areas.

Roles include transporting patients to appointments with doctors, dentists, hospitals and vets, as well as running a befriending service and the dementia-friendly Forget Me Not lunch club. The charity also runs The Worry Tree Cafe, a mental health service operating in Framlingham and Leiston. Its volunteers take care home residents on rides on its fleet of ‘trishaw’ bikes, and provide free smoke detector fitting services.

Speaking at Framlingham Town Council’s latest meeting, Mr Corke said many people the charity encountered were in “desperate need”. And with Suffolk County Council planning to cut £25million from next year’s budget and health services having already made collective savings of around £100m, Mr Corke said volunteer-led organisations were increasingly having to step in.

Speaking after the council meeting, Mr Corke said that while it might be tempting to blame cuts for the lack of services, the reality was “the ever increasing demand for help is going to have to be met by the voluntary sector”

He said that although Hour Community had many volunteers, it lacked finances to administer operations and meet these challenge.

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“What we need is core funding to pay the wages of project administrators, who work at least 40 if not 50 hours a week,” he added. “They do it because they are passionate about helping others, certainly not for the money. But there will come a point when these guys can no longer continue to work for virtually nothing and these projects will stop. Then who will help the vulnerable, lonely and disabled people in our communities?”

Mr Corke has thanked organisations such as the Mills Charity, Mills Meadow care home and Framlingham Town Council for their support. However he is appealing for extra help to cover its £50,000 annual core costs.

Visit www.hourcommunity.co.uk for more information.

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