Friends group fights to save home

A HOME for the blind which has already been saved from closure once today faces a fresh threat to its future unless £20,000 can be raised.

A HOME for the blind which has already been saved from closure once today faces a fresh threat to its future unless £20,000 can be raised.

Residents at the St Felix Home for the Blind in Felixstowe were left facing a move to new care homes for the elderly after its owners said it was no longer economically viable.

Some residents said they would rather die than move but then Ipswich Blind Society did a U-turn and agreed it would not close. However in making that decision the society said the home's future would have to be reviewed in six months' time.

Now a Friends of St Felix group has been formed with the task of raising £20,000 by the end of the year to stop it being closed.

Friend's secretary Sally Thomson said the group, which is made up of residents who say the home is too precious to lose, is determined to meet the challenge and fundraising is under way.

“The Friends' aim is simple: we want to save the home and safeguard its future,” she said.

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“We do not want to see the current residents, some of whom have lived at the home for a number of years, being forced out to find somewhere new and strange to live without their friends.

“The world can be a frightening place when encumbered by age and isolated further by blindness.

“We need to raise money, and fast, so the home meets its financial targets and responsibilities and starts to flourish again.

“The current facilities need to be improved and with more money available we can enlarge into the attached stable block and open the doors to other elderly visually impaired residents of Suffolk needing an independent and caring environment to spend their last years.”

The Friends group has been told the home, which caters for 16 residents, faces closure unless it can balance its books and not be a drain on the society's finances.

It is planning fundraising events and to approach businesses about sponsorship opportunities.

Ipswich Blind Society had wanted to close the home because it had frequent vacancies. Officials also blamed the increasing impact of “care in the community” with more people staying at home instead of going into care homes, and the need to improve the century-old St Felix building.

A lot had been done but potential residents and their families now expected en suite rooms and lifts, which could not be provided. The Friends of St Felix group will be launched on Sunday with a strawberry tea at the home in Princes Road, plus stalls and a raffle, from 2.30pm to 5pm. Admission is £2.50.

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