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Monday, 24 November 2014

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Support for elderly could ‘cease’ if Ulverston shop is closed

HELP and support for elderly and vulnerable Ulverston residents could disappear forever due to council cuts, volunteers have been told.

A senior charity officer has warned that Age Concern Ulverston and District could close for good if the group’s popular pop-in cafe and charity shop is converted into affordable housing.

Last week, South Lakeland District Council’s cabinet voted in favour of entering negotiations with Ulverston Town Council to sell the town hall to developers and relocate services to the Coronation Hall.

It is not yet known if the final sale will include the building’s annexe which houses Age Concern as well as Ulverston Mind and South Lakes Citizens Advice Bureau.

A council spokesman confirmed that if the annexe is sold, SLDC will work with volunteers to find alternative accommodation.

But the independent charity, which pays around £5,000 a year in rent for the shop, said it would struggle to find a similar venue in the town that they could afford.

Sonia Mangan, lead officer for Age UK South Lakeland, said: “Commercially, it would be really really difficult in Ulverston to find something of this size with flat access that would deliver what you’ve got at the moment.

“If they do include the annexe in the decision, it will have such a significant impact on this organisation, it could cease.”

In total, the Age Concern Ulverston shop and cafe raises £17,000 a year, all of which is invested back into the local community.

The volunteers organise regular coach trips for elderly people and arrange an annual Christmas dinner at the Coronation Hall with each guest receiving a gift.

Age Concern volunteer Freda Jack said: “One lady told us that the only present she gets is the one we give her at the Christmas dinner.”

Ms Mangan said the charity might be able to continue without a physical presence and just organise the coach trips and Christmas dinner.

A petition, urging SLDC not to include the annexe in the eventual sale of the town hall has more than 100 signatures. Volunteers also plan to make their case to Ulverston Town Council on Monday, September 15.

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