Fears Over Future Of Norwich Day Care Centre

The future of a Norfolk day care centre which has just celebrated its 30th anniversary hangs in the balance after it emerged there was uncertainty over funding.

The centre in Sprowston has been partially funded by Norfolk County Council’s social services department for the past two years but it is not clear whether this will continue when its contract runs out in March next year.

More than 120 members visit the club every week to enjoy a cooked meal and entertainment, along with carers that some of the members need.

Margaret Wynn has been running the Sprowston Road-based club for more than 19 years with the help of eight staff and volunteers.

She said: “We work as a great team together. Our members have been coming to the club for years and we get lots of entertainers who volunteer their services as long as we pay their expenses.

“We have to raise money to pay for the transport, food and refreshments which are a big worry.

“Donations help a lot and this year we received £2,000 from Norfolk Community Foundation and another £2,000 from the Paul Bassam Trust through Howes Percival Solicitors, which helps considerably, but it is not enough to cater for so many.”

For the past two years social services has donated about £40,000 per year, without which the centre would be forced to close.

The club was set up in 1978 with just nine members and attendances have increased over the past three decades. But now only two of the founder members survive. The third, Ron Whybrow who eventually became president of the club, died in 2007.

James Bullion, assistant director of community care for Norfolk adult social services, said: “People who are eligible for day services through adult social services will soon have a lot more choice and control over what they do, thanks to Personal Budgets.

“In order to get ready for the changes, we are reviewing the day services currently available for older people and younger people with a physical or sensory impairment through a project called Making Your Day.

“We expect that there will be people who choose to continue to use traditional services such as day centres and luncheon clubs, like Sprowston Luncheon Club. However, experience from our own pilot schemes suggests that people will also look at other opportunities.”

“The challenge for us is to make sure there is plenty of support to help people to do this and that there are lots of appropriate and appealing options available.”

As part of the review Mr Bullion said groups had been set up across Norfolk to look at the current and future needs and aspirations of local people and to make sure that the day opportunities meet the demand.

He added: “None of the proposals, including how we fund day services providers, are set in stone, and there will be plenty of opportunities for people to have their say to help shape the plans.

“The plans will be finalised next February and we will be working on implementing them in 2009. As a result of the plans, some day services providers may see a switch in the way they are funded and how much money they receive.”