Day services for more than 100 older and disabled people to close

The Vauxhall Centre in Norwich. Pic: Archant.

The Vauxhall Centre in Norwich. Pic: Archant. - Credit: Archant

More than a hundred older and disabled people have been told the day services they attended prior to coronavirus lockdown will not be restarting.

Bill Borrett, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for adult social care. Pic: Norfolk Conservative

Bill Borrett, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for adult social care. Pic: Norfolk Conservatives. - Credit: Norfolk Conservatives

Social enterprise Independence Matters has notified Norfolk County Council that it will no longer be providing the services at five of the 17 locations it operates across the county.

The services have been shut since lockdown began, but Independence Matters has said it will not restarting them at Benjamin Court in Cromer, Laburnum Grove in Thetford, Cranmer House in Fakenham, The Vauxhall Centre in Norwich and The Lawns in Great Yarmouth.

It means 81 people funded by the county council and 30 private clients will not be able to use those services again.

The Day services offered include activities, learning, information and guidance to people and their families, along with the chance to meet others and make friends.

Brenda Jones, Labour county councillor. Pic: Labour Party.

Brenda Jones, Labour county councillor. Pic: Labour Party. - Credit: Labour Party

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The county council said it is contacting the people it commissioned those services for to find them alternative support.

Bill Borrett, Norfolk County Council’s cabinet member for adult social care, said: “Independence Matters is an independently run company and they have served notice on Norfolk County Council of their intentions to cease providing their service at five locations in Norfolk.

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“The council is putting together a team to work with those affected. We are going to help them find alternative arrangements to ensure support continues to be available. I am hopeful that we can seek to minimize the disruption that service users encounter.

“For the avoidance of any confusion I would like to confirm that Norfolk County Council has continued to fund all its places at Independence Matters in full, even though no services have been offered in the centres due to social distancing requirements of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Cranmer House in Fakenham. Picture: Ian Burt

Cranmer House in Fakenham. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

“I also understand that Independence Matters will continue to provide a range of services at their other locations throughout Norfolk, which are unaffected by their decision.”

But Brenda Jones, Labour county councillor and member champion for physical disabilities and sensory impairment, said it showed the dangers of outsourcing, rather than the council providing such services directly.

She said: “This is the problem when you have private services - they will only do it when there is a profit in it. But the council has a responsibility to ensure viability in the care market and they have failed at that.”

Mrs Jones added: “This has been a long year, with so much anxiety for care givers and then they are told that services which might give them one or two hours respite are ending. Those services can be a lifesaver.”

Three of the venues contain housing with care schemes or residential homes, which will not be affected by the changes, while the Vauxhall Centre is used for other purposes. No other groups are based at The Lawns, in Yarmouth, owned by the county council.

Independence Matters was contacted, but has not commented.

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