Battle starts to save Norwich stroke support group

A support group which has been a lifeline for stroke survivors for more than 20 years is preparing to battle for survival when its funding ends next month.

Members of the Stroke Association service in Norwich and South/Central Norfolk were this week told that funding for the scheme is set to run out and that the group will close at the end of March.

Based at the St Andrew's Centre, in Thunder Lane, Thorpe St Andrew, the group provides somewhere for stroke victims and their carers to go and meet others who have been through a similar experience.

A meeting has been called to find out what the group's options are and if there are any ways the group can be saved.

Carole Watson, 66, of Laundry Lane, Thorpe St Andrew, whose husband David has been attending the group for four or five years, said: 'He wouldn't miss it for the world. It's nice for him to get out and socialise. It's also important for the carers; it's the only two hours break I have a week from 24/7 care.'

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Six people volunteer at the two-hour weekly session, which is held every Tuesday morning, and there are three paid staff members.

Members pay �2 every week plus �2 for their transport.

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The Norwich group is one of four in Norfolk which have been affected. Others are in Aylsham, Wymondham and Sheringham.

David Cox, 47, who lives in Taverham and volunteers at the group after suffering a stroke five years ago, said: 'It's a devastating thing to have a stroke, but at the group, other people have been through similar things, it gives them more confidence and it helps them improve and get better. Coming to the group is the highlight of the week for many of them.'

A spokesman for the NHS said that the eastern region branch of the Stroke Association had received funding for a communication support service and a long-term support service for central Norfolk.

The bulk of the money had been provided by Norfolk adult social services, using a two-year grant from the Department of Health which was about to end. Further funding had been provided by NHS Norfolk and Waveney.

Ian Ayres, deputy chief executive of NHS Norfolk and Waveney, said the loss of the time-limited money meant they did not have enough to sustain the Stroke Association's service.

Neil Chapman, from The Stroke Association, said: 'Having a stroke is a life-changing experience. We believe in life after stroke and that everyone has the right to make the best recovery they can from stroke. We are very disappointed to hear of this decision and feel that the end of these services means people in east Norfolk are being written off.'

The meeting, which will be attended by former Norwich MP Ian Gibson, who suffered a stroke, will be held at the St Andrew's Centre on Tuesday at 10am.

Are you fighting to save a vital service in the area where you live? Call reporter Kate Scotter on 01603 772326 or email

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