West Norfolk Carers charity could close after funding cut

Jane Evans, chief executive of West Norfolk Carers. Picture: Chris Bishop

Jane Evans, chief executive of West Norfolk Carers. Picture: Chris Bishop - Credit: Archant

A charity which supports thousands of carers across West Norfolk could fold after losing council funding.

King's Lynn-based West Norfolk Carers did not win a tender to continue providing support services from Norfolk County Council. That means it has lost £53,500 - around 20pc of its income.

Five of its 12 support workers are being made redundant and the charity, which has been operating for more than 25 years, will close unless alternative funding can be found by the end of December.

Chief executive Jane Evans said: 'The county council has changed the way they want to contract services, the service was put out to tender and a different organisation was successful.

'The concern for us is that much of the funding that we will no longer receive from the county council was what's called core funding which covered rent, lighting whatever. These days charities don't run for free.

'If we can't raise the shortfall, West Norfolk Carers will close.'

The charity, set up more than 25 years ago, runs support groups in Kings Lynn, Swaffham, Hunstanton and Downham Market.

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It also runs drop-in sessions at GP surgeries and offers information, advice, practical and emotional support.

Mrs Evans said: 'In the 12 years since I've been here West Norfolk Carers has supported 15,000 carers. That's a lot of people.

'We've seen so many charities over the last 12 - 18 months closing their doors or having to ration how they deliver services.

'It gets to the point where you think: 'What's going to happen in the future.' Devastated staff were given the news yesterday. Mrs Evans said: 'You can imagine it was upsetting. The staff are committed to the work they do, they don't come here to get rich, it's the satisfaction of supporting people that brings them to work every day.'

A Norfolk County Council spokesman said: 'We value the work that carers across Norfolk do day in, day out, and it is so important that they have the best possible support to maintain a good quality of life.

'The Care Act 2014 introduced new duties that we as an authority need to fulfil and we want to offer carers services that reflect their changing needs, so we carried out a competitive tender process and awarded the contract with this in mind.'

Mrs Evans said anyone wishing to donate to West Norfolk Carers should call the group on 01553 768155.