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‘The fight is not over yet’: councillor asking county to provide funding to under-threat carers charity

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A councillor has said “the fight is not over yet” as she is asking Norfolk County Council to give £100,000 of funding to a carers charity which is due to close at the end of March.It was announced last month that West Norfolk Carers would close after a lack of funding, which the chair of trustees of the charity blamed on a “cost of giving crisis”.West Norfolk Carers, which has been helping carers of all ages for 30 years, needs £240,000 a year to keep running.

Cllr Alex Kemp. Picture: West Norfolk Council

West Norfolk Carers 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.It has helped thousands of people across West Norfolk, and many councillors have spoken out sharing their concerns for West Norfolk residents who care for a loved one.One of those is Cllr Alexandra Kemp, who appealed to Norfolk County Council to give £100,000 of core funding for each of two years to West Norfolk Carers.The council has agreed to a £258 million budget, but has said it had to deal with a £30m overspend in adult social services and children’s services this year.However, council leader Kay Mason Billig did not accept Cllr Kemp’s amendment proposal at Norfolk County Council’s full meeting on Tuesday.Since the meeting, Cllr Kemp said the “fight is not over yet” and hopes West Norfolk Carers can stay open.Cllr Kemp slammed the county council for “not always allocating funds to our district”, and said that they focus attention on the Norwich area and neglect areas such as West Norfolk.“Norfolk County Council doesn’t recognise what an important service West Norfolk Carers is,” said Cllr Kemp.“I think there will be more people that go into residential care, people won’t know where to go. West Norfolk Carers provides so much support and has done for 30 years.“With an ageing population, it’s not fair, people need this now more than ever.”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 of a similar age and situation.In Lynn and Hunstanton, WNC also runs an Alzheimer’s support group.Cllr Kemp, who is a county councillor for Clenchwarton and King’s Lynn South, believes Norfolk County Council is not allocating enough funds to the West Norfolk area.She gave a previous example of Project Gigabyte, a county council initiative to improve broadband. Cllr Kemp said this wasn’t rolled out in West Norfolk.She added: “We as an area are at risk of being neglected by Norfolk County Council.”However, following the initial announcement that West Norfolk Carers would close, Norfolk County Council told the Lynn News of its plans to launch Young Carers Matters Norfolk, a service to help school children who cared for a family member.The scheme will be in partnership with the Benjamin Foundation and the county council insists that support is not being reduced.However, Cllr Kemp has expressed her concerns for young carers who are home-schooled and may not be able to access the new county council-run service.“If you have a service as good as this (West Norfolk Carers), you don’t try to chop it about, you leave it as it is,” she said.“The most vulnerable people in our district are at risk.”

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