Sheringham Stroke Support Group struggling for survival

A long-established support group for stroke victims needs more members to help it survive beyond next month.

Sheringham Stroke Support Group has been offering help and friendship to victims for 26 years but funding cuts mean its future is now 'up in the air,' according to treasurer Harvey Pitcher.

The group, which meets every Wednesday afternoon in Sheringham Methodist Church, has enough money to keep going until it takes its annual summer break in mid-June, but no funding has yet been secured to make sure it re-opens in September, according to Mr Pitcher.

If the club folded, it would be a big blow to some members who had been attending for many years and whose disabilities meant they had a restricted social life.

'It's a way of getting out of the house. We're quite a jolly group and there's a good atmosphere. No-one's at a disadvantage,' said Mr Pitcher.

As well as providing somewhere for people to chat over a cup of tea, play scrabble and do quizzes, the club had occasional speakers.

And it could boast one or two notable successes, including a younger woman who had sat and cried when she first started attending but who had gradually gained confidence and was now doing a computer course.

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The group's future has looked uncertain since a complex and time-limited NHS and Norfolk County Council funding package came to an end. The cash had helped the Stroke Association to run the group.

Although the club was still affiliated to the Stroke Association, which had paid the room hire until mid-June, it had had to become self-financing from April 1, surviving on members' weekly �3 subs and a �250 donation from money raised by the Cromer fireworks.

Cash is especially needed to pay door-to-door taxi costs for members, some of whom travel from North Walsham, Aylsham and Cromer to club sessions.

Mr Pitcher said numbers had fallen as low as six during the period of uncertainty, although a recent talk had boosted attendance to 14.

Unless more people joined, he feared it would not be worth trying to find alternative funding to keep the group going.

Anyone interested in more information should ring secretary Sophie Graveling on 078 332 47108 or Mr Pitcher: 01263 512328.

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