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‘Cost of giving crisis’: Charity supporting carers set to close due to lack of funding

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A service which has supported both child and adult carers for the past 30 years has announced its closure due to a lack of funding.West Norfolk Carers (WNC), based on Lynn’s Queen Street, supports more than 4,000 unpaid family carers in the area per year – 600 of these are young carers under the age of 18 – and relies on funding bids to keep running.However, the charity announced on Friday that due to a lack of successful funding bids, its trustees have been left with no choice but to close and will cease all support at the end of March.

Launch of West Norfolk Carers Transforming Lives programme at the West Norfolk Professional Development Centre in 2016. Front, from left, Marion Coleman (West Norfolk Carers chair), Jane Evans (CEO), Roger Partridge, and back, from left, Sara Nurse and Sally Macgregor

The group’s dementia cafés are also at risk of closure if WNC cannot find another charity to take the service over.Jane Evans, CEO of WNC, said: “We are very sad to be closing our doors, however, we take comfort from the fact that we have helped so many carers over the years, and helped shape services more widely.“It is a huge privilege to know that carers have trusted us to help them, often through some of their darkest moments, and that we have made a genuine difference to all the families we have supported.

Roger Partridge running GEAR for West Norfolk Carers, with its CEO Jane Evans in 2017. Picture: Paul Marsh

“Unfortunately funding constraints mean that we simply cannot continue.”Ms Evans said it costs £240,000 to run the charity each year, which offers school support, one-to-one support and group work.She said it had become “increasingly hard” to obtain funding, with there being “stiff competition” for grants.“Three years ago, I could have guaranteed we could have got funding. But it is different now, this is happening to charities up and down the country,” Ms Evans added.

West Norfolk Carers and Norfolk Young Carers Forum hosted a Cake for Carers event at the Forward Day Centre in Lynn in 2018. Councillor and Young Carers trustee Lesley Bambridge (left) with some of the group involved in the event, also in the picture are Emma Kandjou (West Norfolk Carers) (centre), Andy Mc Gowan (far left) (Carers Trust Young Carers Manager for Cambridge, Peterborough and Norfolk)

She explained that WNC does not get “core funding”, so they receive “no reassurance” that they will receive any cash at all.“The trustees have taken the decision to say to close as it could be dangerous if we remain open,” Ms Evans added.Her focus now will be to help carers who depend on their service and she is speaking to other organisations who could help them.

The Provincial Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons presents a cheque for £500 to West Norfolk Carers in 2012. From left, Jane Evans, Brian Barton, Jackie Haverson (Carers team leader), Richard Hawes (secretary and trustee of East Anglian Mark Benevolent Association), Provincial Grand Master Paul Norman and Anne Hayes

“It is not just children that we help, there are adults that care for people living with dementia and other long-term acute illnesses,” she added.The charity runs a number of services including young carers groups where children who care for a family member can meet with others who are in a similar age and situation.In both Lynn and Hunstanton, WNC also runs an Alzheimer’s support group.Chair of trustees Marion Coleman said charities such as WNC were experiencing a “cost of giving crisis”.“We have been successful in gaining some grant funding, however, despite our very best efforts, it is not enough, and we cannot safely continue,” she said.“It is safe to say that whilst many people we support are experiencing a cost of living crisis, organisations such as ours in the charitable sector, are experiencing a cost of giving crisis, and this has resulted in our sad decision to close WNC from March 31.”WNC needs to raise £240,000 a year to keep running and funding has previously been issued by Norfolk County Council.The closure has resulted in nine jobs being lost. A total of 34 volunteers who are said to be “crucial” in the running of WNC will also be affected by the closure.Cllr Alexandra Kemp, the new Progressive group leader who represents the South and West Lynn ward on West Norfolk Council, said it was “outrageous” that the funding had not been issued.Cllr Kemp, who is also a county councillor, added that she and her peers were not informed or addressed before the funding was taken away.She said: “West Norfolk Carers supports 350 young carers and supports dementia families at the dementia café.“The money is being taken away from West Norfolk and everything is run centrally and the young carers support will be delivered through schools only.“How is this going to reach the 10% of Young Carers who are home-educated? This is insensitive and heartless.”Norfolk County Council has been approached for comment.

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