New home for the blind in Felixstowe

CAMPAIGNERS are celebrating today after it was announced a new multi-million pound home for the blind in Felixstowe will be built.The St Felix Home in Felixstowe, which campaigners twice saved from closure in the past two decades, will be shut and replaced with the new scheme.

By Richard Cornwell

CAMPAIGNERS are celebrating today after it was announced a new multi-million pound home for the blind in Felixstowe will be built.

The St Felix Home in Felixstowe, which campaigners twice saved from closure in the past two decades, will be shut and replaced with the new scheme.

The building will be sold to help fund the modern home for the blind and visually-impaired in another part of the resort.

Today campaigners who have raised £50,000 in 18 months to keep the St Felix in Princes Road open were thrilled at the news.

Diana Barnard, chairman of the friends fundraising group, said: “I think it is a very good project.

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“St Felix is a lovely house but is never going to economical as a home - the rooms are not large enough for en suites, if we put a lift in we would lose another room, and really we need 20 residents and can only accommodate 16.

“There is a shortage of sheltered housing and in particular specialist sheltered schemes - this will be the only development east of Birmingham providing specifically for visually-impaired people.”

With the scheme to feature flatlets, it would allow the ability to cater for a much broader age range, making it a more balanced community, and provide better facilities all round.

“We have raised £50,000 in 18 months and the generosity of the people of Felixstowe has been fantastic - three of our residents at the home have died during that time and the fundraising allowed the home to stay open and for them to have their final days in a place where they were comfortable,” said Mrs Barnard.

“We will carry on fundraising and we want to keep the spirit of the old St Felix in the new St Felix.”

An extraordinary general meeting of Ipswich Blind Society's shareholders voted overwhelmingly to pursue the scheme to replace the St Felix.

The society is negotiating with Flagship Housing to join in the redevelopment of Conford House in Plymouth Road, Walton.

A bid has been put forward to the Housing Corporation, the government funding body, for a “very sheltered” scheme on the Conford site, comprising 24 flats with communal facilities. Priority will be given to visually impaired people.

Roger Fern, chairman of Ipswich Blind Society, said: “The plans the society and Flagship Housing are working on would protect the future for our residents and staff and continue the society's proud tradition of involvement in providing suitable accommodation for frail elderly visually impaired people.”

Completion of the new scheme is expected in early 2010 when residents of St Felix will transfer to their new flats, along with the staff. St Felix will then be sold for flats and the proceeds invested in the new scheme.

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

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