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‘A huge relief for so many families’ as carers charity saved thanks to partnership with hospital

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A charity which helps support thousands of carers across West Norfolk has been saved from closure thanks to a new partnership with Lynn’s hospital.Earlier this year, West Norfolk Carers announced that it would be closing at the end of March due to a lack of funding bids during what they called a “cost of giving crisis”.Just days after the charity was predicted to close, it announced, alongside Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital, that it will be moving its services up to the site on Gayton Road.

Roger Partridge and Jane Evans (CEO of West Norfolk Carers) pictured in 2017 as Roger prepared to run GEAR for the cause

West Norfolk Carers supports 4,000 unpaid family carers in the borough, around 600 of these are young carers under the age of 18 who help look after a family member.The new partnership will help support patients when discharged from the hospital by ensuring that they and their carers receive the help they need. A spokesperson from West Norfolk Carers said: “This holistic service will be personalised with the intention that people do not feel alone and isolated in the weeks following their discharge from hospital.

The launch of West Norfolk Carers Transforming Lives programme in 2016. Pictured front from left to right, Marion Coleman (WN Carers chair), Jane Evans (CEO WN Carers), Roger Partridge, and back, from left to right, Sara Nurse and Sally Macgregor

“This wraparound solution will mean patients and their carers will feel better supported – from the point of admission to the QEH through to their recovery at home or in the community.”West Norfolk Carers needs £240,000 a year to keep running.The partnership will mean that West Norfolk Carers will remain an independent charity and will continue to provide its young carer groups, dementia groups and support carers of all ages.Its office at Thoresby College will move to the hospital premises.

Queen Elizabeth Hospital, King’s Lynn

Many have expressed their relief that the charity will remain running. One of those is former High Sheriff of Norfolk James Bagge, who has previously fundraised for West Norfolk Carers by walking 1,500 miles from his home near Downham to the west coast of Spain.Mr Bagge, who is to run against former Prime Minister Liz Truss in a bid to become South West Norfolk MP, raised £2,000 for West Norfolk Carers. Speaking after the announcement was made, he said: “I am delighted and relieved to learn that West Norfolk Carers, who a month ago were due to close through lack of funding, have been able to enter into a mutually beneficial partnership with the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.“They will assist with the transition management of patients from hospital into care, thereby releasing valuable hospital beds.

James Bagge

“As a result of this arrangement, West Norfolk Carers will receive the necessary funding to continue offering their services more widely, catering for around 3,000 service users. “In particular, they will be supporting some 600-700 young carers whose very real needs are close to my heart after I met many of them during my year as High Sheriff of Norfolk.“I was deeply concerned by the prospect of such a worthy organisation being forced to close. I was determined to support an outcome such as this which is a huge weight off my mind, and even more so for the many unpaid carers who depend on essential services provided by West Norfolk Carers.” Mr Bagge added: “This is an ideal arrangement and clearly demonstrates the successful practical application of a proposal I have been making at my recent public meetings in the South West Norfolk constituency. “Combining the commitment and experience of local community groups with the financial backing of local government, health, and education authorities will save the public purse huge sums of money. At the same time, this will make our community more resilient in these challenging times.“We need to encourage authorities to look more carefully at the value of local community endeavours and understand the true cost that will be incurred if these local organisations go under.”

Cllr Rob Colwell

Gaywood councillor Rob Colwell described the news as “a huge relief for so many families”.Cllr Colwell said: “Having raised the issue numerous times at full council and in questions to the leader of Norfolk County Council, I’m so pleased to hear that West Norfolk Carers will now continue with a new partner in our local QEH.“The charity has an amazing reputation in the community and dedicated volunteers. A huge relief for so many families. Thank you to all those who campaigned to help save this longstanding and vital local charity.”

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