‘It’s my lifeline’: Services for elderly and vulnerable forced to close after mayor axes fund

A mayor has axed a community fund that provides services to elderly and vulnerable people, which could see an organisation close down.

The Mayor of Croydon, Jason Perry, has cut the Community Fund, saying it is because of mismanagement from the previous administration.

The Community Fund was set up in 2016 to provide much-needed financial support to organisations that supply essential services for the elderly and vulnerable in Croydon.

Alan Butler, 67, of Tivoli Road, Norwood, is a regular user of services provided by Upper Norwood Association for Community Care (UNACC), an organisation fighting closure following the cuts.

He said: “I’ve been coming here for more than 10 years since I retired.

“When you’re on your own in the house, you build up anxiety and stress, so to come to a place like this is very beneficial for me.”

June Briggs (Picture: UNACC)

These services are also an integral part of keeping people out of hospitals and the care system.

UNACC offers older people a safe, friendly place to be, four times a week. Members enjoy a wide range of activities, including seated yoga, Zumba gold, Nordic walking and art classes. UNACC used to receive £39,930 each year from the Community Fund to finance its work.

Jean Pietru, 93, of Norbury Hill, Norbury, has been supported by UNACC for 10 years. She said: “It’s my lifeline.

“I don’t know what I would do without the company, the exercises.

“We thoroughly enjoy ourselves. It would be disastrous if we had to close.”

Another member, June Briggs, 91, of Ross Road, Crystal Palace, has been using UNACC services for 25 years.

She said: “I’m really very, very sad about the whole thing. Just hoping there is going to be a miracle, somebody is going to sponsor us or something like that, keep us going that little bit longer.”

An online petition calling on the mayor to reconsider the cut has reached more than 500 signatures.

Manager of UNACC, Natalie Fernandez, said: “It is absolutely vital Croydon council continues to support preventative services for older people, leaving them vulnerable and alone at home will cost the council and its residents more in the long run.

“It will be the taxpayer the council looks to when picking up the bill.”

Croydon council has been approached for comment.

Pictured top: Alan Butler and Jean Pietru (Picture: UNACC)

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Croydon – South London News