Community group vows to fight on despite loss of funding
A voluntary group which has served the elderly community for over 30 years has said they won’t go down without a fight after being stripped of funding.
Friends in St Helier (Fish), founded in 1981, received £36,290 last year to help the elderly in St Helier, Morden and Mitcham, but were told last month their funding would stop from April.
Five other groups also had their funding withdrawn after the council changed its criteria which meant only groups deemed to be helping keep the elderly living at home, rather than in care homes, would be funded saving the council £500,000 over three years in care costs.
The group, described as a vital life line by its members, hold lunch clubs, arrange outings, make hospital visits, deliver prescriptions, offer transport and provide a host of other services including hairdressing and chiropody - services its members say help keep them living independently.
Anne Sadler, 82, who has volunteered with the organisation for the last 19 years, said: "They can come out and they can socialise they have a hot dinner and it keeps their brain going.
"Everything seems to go to Wimbledon and we are the only ones in our area like this except for the Morden Guild, but they don’t do what we do.
"Here we have the whole package with dinners and days out and chiropody and hairdressing."
Margaret Ralston, who helps run the group, said they are determined to continue and won't give up without a fight.
She said: "It will have a big impact if we have to close.
"If any of them get ill we check they are ok and bring them up a dinner if they need it, get their prescriptions or visit them in hospital - it’s not just being here and giving them a lunch.
"It’s like an extended family."
For Jack Murray, 88, the group gives him a break from caring for his wife Vera who has Alzheimer's.
He said: "It gives me a break and they all work very hard.
"If it closes, all these elderly people will have nowhere to go."
This week all groups stripped of their funding were told that they had been successful in securing six months "transitional funding" from the council, half of what they would have received, to help work toward their future.
Anyone interested in joining Fish should call 07870 214016 or email email@example.com.