OAPs fury as social club axed

ANGRY pensioners spoke of their disgust last night after a cash-strapped council axed a “vital” service for the disabled and housebound.Dozens of elderly residents have for years benefited from socialising and getting out of their homes thanks to the Sudbury Friday Club.

ANGRY pensioners spoke of their disgust last night after a cash-strapped council axed a “vital” service for the disabled and housebound.

Dozens of elderly residents have for years benefited from socialising and getting out of their homes thanks to the Sudbury Friday Club.

But now members have voiced their shock and anger after organiser Age Concern was forced to stop the valuable service - blaming recent “drastic savings” made by Suffolk County Council.

Gladys Wright, 84, who lives in Sudbury, said: “For many, the Friday Club is the only chance for pensioners to get out and mix.


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“These are often people who are suffering from depression or are in wheelchairs who rely on this vital service. The important thing about the club is the social side and we are losing this purely because of a small amount of money.”

Elaine Court, 79, of Sudbury, said: “We are all pensioners but we even offered to pay more to keep it open. I am absolutely disgusted by this - it is a horrible way to treat old people.”

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The Friday Club, which has been running for more than a decade, provides members with a chance to socialise, have lunch and listen to music and take part in other activities at its base at St John's Church.

Sudbury mayor Nigel Bennett said: “It strikes me that everyone is saying we should help elderly people become independent but then something like these cuts are made.

“I am extremely concerned and I would urge Suffolk County Council to reconsider what it is doing and the consequences of these decisions.”

Last night, Age Concern and Suffolk County Council appeared to blame each other for the decision. The charity's bosses have now offered alternative services - but admitted members would have to be split up due to the popularity of similar clubs in Sudbury.

Gordon Slack, community and care services director at the Suffolk section of the charity, said: “This has been a very difficult decision to take and the last thing we wanted to do.

“At Age Concern, we don't like to see any services cease but we are limited in what we can provide and our own resources and grants have been stretched by cuts at Suffolk County Council.”

Graham Newman, the county council's portfolio holder for adult and community services, said: “While this is Age Concern's decision, I know there are alternative social activities available in the Sudbury area, including the Chilton Day Centre, also run by Age Concern Suffolk.

“It does seem to make sense to concentrate on developing the day activities there, and to offer them to more people. I would like to express my appreciation for all the dedicated, hard-working volunteers who have been involved there over the years.”

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