Future of vital west Norfolk disability information service in doubt

Jonathan Toye at the WNDiS (West Norfolk Disability Information Service) office: Pictures: David Bal

Jonathan Toye at the WNDiS (West Norfolk Disability Information Service) office: Pictures: David Bale - Credit: Archant

A vital lifeline for disabled people in west Norfolk could be forced to close, after its health authority funding was withdrawn.

West Norfolk Disability Information Service (WNDiS) gives advice and advocacy to hundreds of disabled people and their families fighting for benefits and their rights.

But the charity is facing imminent closure with its main funder, NHS West Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group , withdrawing support with immediate effect.

A CCG spokesman said it withdrew support after it discovered that much of the charity's work was not related to healthcare. It must fund projects that are predominantly NHS-related work.

The service is based in Tuesday Market Place, King's Lynn, and co-ordinator Jonathan Toye said: 'This is a major blow, and it means we have just two to three months to raise funds until the money runs out.

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'We have helped thousands of people over the years. We have been getting about £13,000 annually for about seven years from the CCG.

'It costs us about £20,000 a year to run the service. We do have other sources of funding and have been getting about £1000 from West Norfolk Council each year.'

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The local health authority, in its various guises, has always provided funding for the service since its beginning in 1999.

Mr Toye added: 'Many agencies refer their clients to WNDiS for help with benefit appeals (PIP, ESA and Attendance Allowance) for which the service has a high rate of success.

'The service campaigns for positive changes improving the quality of disabled people's lives.'

A spokesman for the CCG said: 'The decision to cease funding was taken because the CCG was informed by WNDiS that much of its work is not related to healthcare, rather it spends much time and resources on assisting people with benefit claims.

'The CCG is required to ensure its money is spent on providing health-related support to people, as residents in west Norfolk might expect.'

If you can help, call the service on 01553 782558 or email jt@wndis.org.uk. For more information visit www.wndis.org.uk/aims.htm

Has funding been cut where you work? Email david.bale2@archant.co.uk

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