Funding crisis forces closure of Soham support scheme

MORE than 20 vulnerable and elderly people have been left without the support they had relied on, after a community support scheme closed down due to lack of funding.

For the last four years, Soham Community Support Scheme has employed two mobile wardens to visit clients and phone them on week days.

The scheme’s chairman George Ginn announced this week: “It is with great regret that we have to announce the closure of the scheme on October 14.

“Following with withdrawal of funding, and unsuccessful attempts to find alternative funding, it has become financially impossible to continue operating the scheme.”

He added: “This has broken our heart to have to stop the scheme, our clients really look forward to their daily telephone call and the visits, and they have become our friends.

“Our work gave reassurance to families, who knew that someone was phoning to make sure their relatives were OK, and we would alert them if anything was amiss.

“The wardens have also arranged trips; we were able to hire the Dial-a-Ride bus and take clients out for a pub lunch, to give them a social outing.”

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When visiting clients, wardens have been on hand to collect prescriptions or pensions.

“Our work has helped our clients live independent lives in their own homes rather than having to go into care. We have also arranged for clients to have personal alarms,” added Mr Ginn.

Soham Community Support Scheme had an annual budget of �16,000; which came mostly from local authority funding, along with some help from local charities.

“The cost had to cover our staff and their mobile phones,” explained Mr Ginn. “Our clients have been paying �12 a year and then �3 each week.”

The scheme had only recently been awarded charitable status; Mr Ginn had hoped that would help with funding.

“Unfortunately the money has run out, and we could not soldier on in the hope of getting more funding. But we have not given up hope; and if we can get some financial help, we will start up again,” he stressed.

The mobile wardens will leave their jobs at the end of September; and members of the management committee will step into the breach and perform their duties until October 14.

Mr Ginn added: “We have plenty of helpers for the scheme, but just not enough funds to run it; if we attract some funding we hope to re-employ the wardens and start again.”

Anyone who can help with funding is asked to phone Mr Ginn on 01353 720128