Category: Transport

From Kent and Sussex Courier. 10th September 2010.

MEN with mental health issues will be unable to attend a vital therapeutic workshop in Crowborough because the NHS has axed their transport.

“Tim Page, 54, of Jonas Lane, Wadhurst, attends a Monday morning woodwork session at Grove House day hospital in Crowborough.

He suffered a mental breakdown seven years ago, but said the workshops had given him a form of therapy and the opportunity to make friends.

The self-funding group runs its own workshop, making garden furniture for the hospital or selling it to raise money. The only cost to the NHS trust is the transport.

But when they turned up this week they were told funds for their car, driven by volunteers, had been cut.

Mr Page said: “We have been worried about this for months because we kept hearing about it and no-one would tell us what was happening. Then they dropped the bombshell today when we walked in.

“Two of the other blokes are really upset. They don’t get out so it is a relief to get out and talk to other blokes.” …

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Ring-a-Ride has lived under a cloud for more than two years – its funding was to be withdrawn during previous budget reductions until it was saved following public consultation.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

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