Delays in agreeing personal care budgets threaten future of Fakenham charity

The Wensum Centre at Fakenham Cricket Club. Picture: Ian Burt

The Wensum Centre at Fakenham Cricket Club. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

The Wensum Centre has been supporting people recovering from mental health issues for more than 30 years.

But it may not be able to continue for much longer unless it can find additional funding.

'We're always applying for funding from grant people like the lottery,' said co-ordinator Debbie Brown. 'The bulk of our finance should come from people's personal budgets but we're finding people aren't getting the funds they're entitled to.

'It seems that so many people with mental health issues are just falling through the net.'

Mrs Brown said applying for a personal budget was 'a long-winded process'. She added: 'Once the 20 or 40-page form's been filled in it goes to a social worker, then it goes to their manager, then it goes to a panel, it can take a year to 18 months, it's really quite shocking.'

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A Norfolk County Council spokesman said: 'Norfolk County Council took over direct responsibility for people in Norfolk aged 18-64 with a mental health social care need in October 2014. We aimed to get people set up with a personal budget as quickly as possible but needed to balance this with responding to urgent and emergency needs of the people in our care.

'A manager met with the manager of the Wensum Centre last year so that we could understand their position and concerns and to ensure they knew who to speak in the mental health social care team if they needed to get in touch.

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'We're pleased to say that, 18 months on, most of the people who attend the Wensum Centre who are eligible for one do have a personal budget.

'There is a continuing delay with one person and we're sorry about this – we'll contact the manager of the centre to discuss this and try to resolve the situation swiftly.'

The Wensum Centre, in Field Lane, supports between 20 and 25 members, offering them activities and a sympathetic ear.

Mrs Brown said unless funding could be found soon, the trustees would be forced to meet to decide whether to carry on.

'If we could get £40,000 it would keep us running for a whole year,' she said. 'Everything would be covered.'

Lady Dannatt, last year's High Sheriff of Norfolk and the wife of General the Lord Dannatt, former head of the British Army, supported the centre during her year of office, when she championed mental health care. She said that it did 'a wonderful job'.

Last october, it received a £10,000 lottery grant towards the cost of providing wellbeing services.

The Wensum Centre is open on Mondays and Wednesdays, between 9.30am and 3.30pm, and Fridays, from 10am until 1pm.

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