Award-winning day centre in Steeple Claydon facing closure

Age UK day centres Queen's Award for Industry.Lord Lieutenant of Bucks,Sir Henry Aubrey-Fletcher and volunteers from Steeple Claydon and Wing centres.'121002M-B649
Age UK day centres Queen's Award for Industry.Lord Lieutenant of Bucks,Sir Henry Aubrey-Fletcher and volunteers from Steeple Claydon and Wing centres.'121002M-B649

A outstanding day care centre for the elderly which received Royal recognition last year is to close due to loss of funding.

The Age UK day centre, which operates in Steeple Claydon Village Hall on Tuesdays, is set to lose its Bucks County Council (BCC) funding from the end of September.

The Steeple Claydon day centre is one of two run by Age UK in the north of the Vale for older people with dementia and other mental health problems, the other being in Wing on a Thursday.

The idea of the centres is to provide mental stimulation as well as social contact for the clients, as well as vital respite for their carers.

Clients get an excellent home-cooked lunch and birthdays and special occasions are celebrated. Transport is provided. The centres are staffed by a paid leader and manager, assisted by devoted teams of volunteers.

Last year, the volunteers at both centres were collectively awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service – the MBE for volunteer groups – in recognition of their outstanding service.

Until now, Age UK has received £26,000 per year in funding from BCC towards the running of the two centres.

But due to the roll-out of the national ‘Personalisation Agenda’, involving personal budgets for service users and competitive tendering for service providers, there will be no more BCC funding for the service from the end of September.

Age UK’s board of trustees has decided to keep the service running until the end of March next year, after which it will cease if no alternative funding is found,

Chief executive of Age UK Bucks, Giulia Johnson, said: “We are saddened that we can no longer provide this much-needed service, particularly as our amazing and dedicated volunteers were presented with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service only last year.

“It costs more than £42,000 to provide the service and income brings in only around £19,000, so without external funding to cover the gap we cannot continue to operate.”

County councillor for Buckingham Robin Stuchbury, who found out about the closure at an Ageing Well In Buckingham event at Buckingham Community Centre last Monday, immediately raised his concerns with 
cabinet member for health and wellbeing, Patricia Birchley.

Mrs Birchley told the Advertiser: “It is of great concern to learn that Age UK may not be able to continue to provide the service at Steeple Claydon after March 2014.

“We are seeking urgent discussions with Age UK to understand their position and we shall do our utmost to ensure that the service continues. “