A Chesterfield charity that provides vital support for the town’s vulnerable and elderly is set to have its funding slashed - and it is warned that the move could have ‘disastrous’ consequences.
The Volunteer Centre is one of dozens of ‘lifeline’ charities who received an unwelcome surprise on the 70th Anniversary of the NHS- a letter from the local Clinical Commissioning Group revealing plans to cut grant funding in a bid to make savings of £80m.
While still at the consultation stage, if approved the cuts would represent a huge financial blow to the charity, which depends on grants for services such as its befriending scheme and volunteer transport provision.
Many elderly and vulnerable residents rely on these services to keep well, stay independent and access social contact.
Dave Radford, manager, said: “We are only one of a number of organisations receiving this news and the impact will be disastrous.
“Those who rely on our services – many of whom describe them as a lifeline, without which life wouldn’t be worth living – will be devastated.
“So will the volunteers who generously give so much of their time for free and make these services possible.
“We had been told that the CCG was under pressure, but to find out that we are going to lose our befriending grant is terrible news - especially on a day when we had hoped to be celebrating 70 years of the NHS and the additional investment being made by Government.
“It’s also short sighted, when health services are under so much pressure, to slash affordable, community-based, preventative support that does so much to keep people out of hospital.
“The CCG’s own equality assessment says that their cuts will increase social isolation and loneliness, which is a cause of depression and early death.”
A spokesman for NHS Derbyshire CCG said: “Governing bodies have concluded, in principle, that CCGs are no longer able to fund discretionary grants awarded to the voluntary sector.
“A formal engagement began last week, following on from the previous conversations we’ve had with voluntary organisations ahead of any final decision being made in August.
“We appreciate this is a very difficult and concerning time for the groups and we are going to continue to work closely with them to identify, and where possible mitigate, any areas of risk identified.”
Subject to a decision in August, a notice period of no less than three months will be issued to the groups that are affected.