Anger at axed service for disabled

CHARITY chiefs have been criticised after axing a cherished service for the disabled in Felixstowe.The Red Cross ran a service where residents and visitors could borrow a wheelchair, walking frame or commode at short notice in exchange for a donation.

By Richard Cornwell

CHARITY chiefs have been criticised after axing a cherished service for the disabled in Felixstowe.

The Red Cross ran a service where residents and visitors could borrow a wheelchair, walking frame or commode at short notice in exchange for a donation.

But following the closure of Felixstowe General Hospital - which is set to be refurbished at a cost of £1.4 million - the charity lost its storage space.


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It had been using an old disused ward to keep the equipment, but has now had to move the items and not been able to find a replacement site.

In a bid to keep the service in Felixstowe, Michael Allen, pastoral care worker for the Felixstowe Trust for the Christian Care of Older People, offered the Red Cross new storage space at the trust's headquarters at Maidstone Hall, Maidstone Road - but his offer was rejected.

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He has now written to Red Cross bosses urging them strongly to change their minds.

Mr Allen said: “I just wanted to register my deep regret at the inconvenience which will now be experienced by Felixstowe people who need this equipment.

“The store at Felixstowe General was the only place locally where one could borrow a walking aid, a wheelchair or commode at short notice.

“I know there is a great disappointment shared by many that this service is being discontinued.

“I know this is in no way due to the organisers who have worked extremely hard to avoid closure of the scheme. I understand it is the policy of Red Cross headquarters in Norwich not to replace the centre.”

Although the trust would have charged rent for the storage space, donations for the equipment would probably have covered this.

People now had to travel to Ipswich or Woodbridge to borrow items.

Lynda Miller, services manager for medical equipment for the British Red Cross, said the charity had to vacate its premises in Felixstowe and efforts to find an alternative store had not proved successful.

They thanked the trust for their offer but were “truly sorry” they could not take it up. The rent proposed was too high and the service had to work to a limited budget.

Did you use the service - what do you think? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

WEBLINK: www.redcross.org.uk

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