Town loses elderly support service

ELDERLY residents in a north Suffolk market town have told of their distress after it emerged that a support service is to close at the end of the year.

ELDERLY residents in a north Suffolk market town have told of their distress after it emerged that a support service is to close at the end of the year.

The Age Concern office in Halesworth is due to close on December 31 after Suffolk County Council withdrew funding for its Age Concern Confused Elders Support Service (ACCESS).

It was revealed earlier in the year that this service will cease because the council cut funding for the service and its equivalent in Ipswich as part of sweeping cost-saving measures in social care.

The Halesworth branch cannot afford to continue without this money and will now relocate to Lowestoft.


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Gordon Slack, spokesman for Age Concern Suffolk, said: “Due to the loss of funding for the ACCESS service our ability to stay at the Halesworth office is affected.

“Age Concern is a service that's been there for a number of years and one that people have come to rely on so it will be a blow for the people in the town.”

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He said the majority of the Halesworth office is used by the ACCESS team and they will no longer be able to afford the rent after it ceases action at the end of the year.

However, Age Concern Suffolk is looking for an office to use once a week to run a help desk service in the town.

Elderly residents in Halesworth have expressed distress and disappointment at the closure.

Susan O'Leary, of Wissett, near Halesworth, said: “We moved down from Brooke to Halesworth at the end of September and were looking forward to having Age Concern here and I would be very sorry to see it go.”

Maud Lambert, of Halesworth, said: “I think it's very sad because there are a lot of elderly people about and Age Concern are a great help.

“Lowestoft is a long way for people to go and that's the trouble when they take services away from here.”

There has also been concern because there are no direct bus services linking Halesworth and Lowestoft and one of the services takes around two hours between the towns.

Graham Newman, Suffolk County Council portfolio holder for adult and community services said: “I'm very sorry to hear Age Concern are having to close their Halesworth office but doubtless, like us at the council, they are having to balance their expenditure with their income.”

The news comes in the same week that the council outlined proposals to shave more than £12m off the adult care and community services budget, affecting the elderly and vulnerable.

kate.scotter@eadt.co.uk

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