Concerns over impact of cuts on Norfolk’s elderly

The chief executive of a Norwich charity has spoken about his fears for funding and continuing to provide services against the backdrop of cuts.

Phil Wells, CEO of Age UK Norwich, talked about the difficulties the charity was facing and that he thought 2012 would be a challenging year.

Mr Wells said: 'I think the worst is yet to come. We have been struggling through as a sector. It has been affecting charities, investments and pensions. There is an increase in competition for grants and a need for community support. We are focusing on creating links with the community. Campaigning has become more important.'

However Mr Wells expressed his delight in the rise in volunteers the charity has seen in the past year.

He said: 'I was surprised to learn, looking at the figures, that we have got more volunteers than we had this time last year - more people are supporting us to support old people but we need to double the number of volunteers.'

The Norwich branch of the national charity employs 20 staff and is boosted by nearly 300 volunteers.

He also expressed the need for the charity to do more local fundraising.

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'We haven't done fundraising with a capital F. We need the money but there's a danger that people won't come for help if they think we can't offer it. We need to make our reserves last as long as we can - the alternative is to cut services. We will cut the reserves down to the bone. I think that next year is going to be the tough year.'

Chair of Age UK Norwich, Kate Money, said: 'We know that the coming months and years will not be easy either for local communities and our own organisation and that funding is going to be a lot tougher. This makes it all the more important that we listen to older people in Norwich about their needs and ensure their voice is heard.'

Mr Wells added: 'Access to good quality social care is a big issue for people. We need to see an increase in support for people with mental health difficulties such as dementia, depression and anxiety - they are our priorities. But we can't do everything. We need to do the stuff that other people won't do.'

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