A campaign is being launched to save a Reydon day care centre which is set to close at the end of the year.

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Up to 20 people from the Southwold area – many of whom are aged over 80 or are mentally or physically disabled – use the Pitches View centre, which opens and is described by some as a “lifeline”.

But they have now been informed that it is due to shut, because of a lack of use.

The centre in Wangford Road, which is run by Orwell Housing Association, provides somewhere for elderly and vulnerable people to go for day care, to socialise, take part in activities or meet others on Mondays and Wednesdays. They describe it as “a home from home” and that there is nothing else like it in the area.

Campaigners believe that if transport to and from the centre was improved, it would be able to continue.

And now, a fundraising appeal is being launched to reopen it in the spring.

Cathy Ryan, a community matron based at Southwold Surgery who set up the Sole Bay Care Fund charity, said: “It’s very sad that the centre is going to close. The people who use it are vulnerable and are often isolated.

“We are working with Orwell Housing to see how we can get the centre back in a different format. We need more people to go the centre to make it cost-effective but we can’t get people there because of the transport service. What we need is some volunteers to help with the transport and to support the day centre.”

The centre is used by both people who live at the Pitches View sheltered housing scheme and those coming in from the local community. Together with its two members of staff, they were informed of the impending closure by letter last week – just five weeks before it closes its doors on December 31.

It is believed £30,000 will need to be raised to keep the centre running and cover transport costs.

Sarah Hargreaves, 62, who lives in Southwold and whose husband Harry has dementia and attends the day centre once a week, said: “That centre is a lifeline; it gives my husband somewhere to go, somewhere to focus on and something to look forward to and, as his carer, it gives me a respite day. There’s nothing around the immediate area of Southwold and Reydon and the staff there are absolutely marvellous.

“I’m not the only one who feels like this, we are all thinking where else are we going to go, there’s nowhere else to go. The staff at Pitches View are wonderful and the facilities are wonderful.”

The news comes just as a new partnership scheme between Sole Bay Care Fund, NHS Norfolk and Waveney and Orwell Housing is about to be launched.

Together with the Southwold Trust, Reydon Trust, Southwold and District Lions and the Southwold and District Rotary Club, the Sole Bay Care Fund has pooled funds and resources to rent a two-bed apartment at Pitches View sheltered housing scheme.

The community apartment will act as a “step up/down” facility for patients registered with Southwold Surgery who need a little longer to recuperate after spending time in hospital or require a little more support and help to rebuild their confidence before returning home.

It will also enable some people to be discharged early from a hospital environment, giving them somewhere to go for extra support and care on a short-term basis.

The scheme, which will officially get under way next week, has been five months in the planning and has cost £15,000 to bring to fruition.

Andrew Regent, supported housing care manager for Orwell Housing, said: “We know for some people that the day centre is quite essential but the facts of the matter are that we needed to have an essential number of people using the centre to make it viable and unfortunately that number of essential people was not enough to keep it going.

“The last thing we want is for the service to deteriorate and if we can make it work in another way by using volunteers and the community helping itself then that would be fantastic.”

He said that the centre’s two members of staff will be kept in employment elsewhere within the organisation.

A spokesman for Suffolk County Council, which places clients at Pitches View Day Centre on a place-by-place basis, said it would continue to do so if the centre remained open.

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