Category: Older People

From the Northern Echo. 31st August 2010.

In the continuing series looking at how cuts across Darlington will impact on residents, Paul Cook reports on the threatened Ring-a-Ride service.

“THEY might represent a tiny fraction of Darlington’s near 100,000 population, but for Ring-a-Ride users, the service is a vital lifeline.

To mirror that tiny percentage, funding for the facility barely causes a ripple in the vast ocean of the council’s budget.

Yet, the service faces an uncertain and bleak future when funding ceases at the end of the year.

Ring-a-Ride has lived under a cloud for more than two years – its funding was to be withdrawn during previous budget reductions until it was saved following public consultation.

It took over five years ago from a former guise as Dial-aRide. It provides transport to 36 regular and 97 occasional users, elderly and vulnerable people, many of whom would otherwise be unable to leave their homes.

Ending its funding will save Darlington Borough Council’s budget only £6,000 this year and £25,000 per year afterwards.

The first customer was Judith Reed, from Bank Top.

Aged nine, she contracted polio which left her severely disabled.

Now 68, Mrs Reed says Ringa-Ride’s loss will create a real hole in her quality of life. She uses it for dentist and doctor appointments, shopping trips and weekly church worship.

Mrs Reed says: “The drivers become friends. They are very helpful and carry shopping in for me.

“I don’t know what I will do when it finishes. I will probably be stuck in, I can get to the park and back but that might be about it.

“The council is hitting the frail, elderly and vulnerable.”

Operator Darlington District Youth and Community Association is unsure how it will continue when funding ends in December.

Gayle Bentham said: “We are trying to think of every idea to keep our users, but our funding is being taken away.

“We provide much more than a taxi service. Sometimes we are the only people these people talk to each week. My heart breaks for all the people who use this vital service.”

The council’s cabinet approved the grant removal last month – two weeks after it gave The Forum music centre £6,000 to prevent it from closing.

Liberal Democrat councillor Anne-Marie Curry appealed for the cabinet to defer its decision.”…..

Click here for rest of article.


ALMOST 20 projects for elderly or vulnerable people in the borough are set to miss out on funding.

From the East London and West Essex Guardian.

7th September 2010.

“Redbridge Council was hoping to receive a total of £5.8 million from the Government to help fund vital projects in the borough but the council is now likely to receive just under £3 million.

Tonight Redbridge Council’s cabinet is due to meet and one of the items up for discussion is the Local Public Service Agreement (LPSA).

Under the LPSA a host of projects were started in the borough last year and as they proved a success it meant the council became eligible to receive a substantial Government grant, in total £5.8 million.

The first payment, of £2.3 million, was made to the authority in March and the rest of the grant was due to be paid in March next year.

In total 19 projects are in need of funding but the grant has been scaled back by Government as it attempts to address the nation’s deficit.

One of the projects which is set to be hit by the Government decision is the Age Well initiative which provides exercise classes for the elderly, run by Age Concern.

Gary Heather, a senior manager with Age Concern in Redbridge, said the application for £50,000 was to help keep the Age Well initiative running at its current level.

Council officers have looked at what the authority can afford and it had been recommended the project receives £25,000 instead of £50,000.

Mr Heather said: “We assumed we were getting it and we had hoped for more initially.

“On paper the project doesn’t work without the funding, it’s future will depend on whether our board would want to carry on supporting it through our reserve funding, which in today’s climate there might be other calls for that money.”

Mr Heather said Age Well is run across the borough and provides health promotion advice and exercise classes for the elderly.

He said: “It’s very social and we have about 100 older people who benefit from classes which include tai chi, line dancing, walking, chair-based exercises and more.”

Mr Heather said £25,000 has been spent on the project since the start of the year so if another £25,000 is given by the council it will cover the next six months but classes would face an uncertain future after that.

Another service likely to be affected is Redbridge Concern for Mental Health‘s new programme Befriending Service for People with Dementia.

The initiative is at the centre of an application for £60,000 and it has been recommended that £30,000 is given.

The project, which has been running for about six months but it is in its infancy, aims to recruit and train volunteers who befried elderly residents in the borough who are alone and living with dementia……”

Click here for rest of article.

Doctors Issue Warning on Mental Health Cuts.

From the Oxford Mail. 13th August 2010.

“TOP mental health consultants have voiced “grave concerns” about proposed cuts to mental health services in Oxfordshire in a letter leaked to the Oxford Mail.

About £5.3m worth of service cuts are being planned to hit Oxfordshire, which could result in a 19 per cent reduction in frontline and administration staff.

A document passed to the Oxford Mail showed the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Mental Health (OBMH) trust plans to make the savings by 2014.

It cares for around 14,000 Oxfordshire people with mental health conditions and many patients and families have spoken of their worry at the changes.

Now a letter sent anonymously, but signed on behalf of six key mental health consultants, has outlined serious worries about cuts to front line staff, home visits and risk to patient care.

It warned: “As a 19 per cent reduction in staff and a major reconfiguration of the service are both independently potential sources of risk to patient safety, patient outcomes and untreated morbidity we view these as substantial and controversial changes…..”

Click here for rest of article

Further links to articles about this story:

UNITE 14th July 2010

This is Oxfordshire 17th July 2010