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Revealed: Plight of Sudbury charity and people it helps following demise of Age UK

PUBLISHED: 15:01 07 August 2020 | UPDATED: 15:01 07 August 2020

Manager of GoStart, John Phillips, the charity which runs bus services for the elderly and disabled in the Sudbury area. Picture: GEMMA JARVIS

Manager of GoStart, John Phillips, the charity which runs bus services for the elderly and disabled in the Sudbury area. Picture: GEMMA JARVIS

Archant

A Suffolk charity and the people it helps are facing an uncertain future following the collapse of Age UK.

GoStart worked in partnership with Age UK, subletting part of the building on Martins Road from them and providing daily transport. Picture: GEMMA JARVISGoStart worked in partnership with Age UK, subletting part of the building on Martins Road from them and providing daily transport. Picture: GEMMA JARVIS

GoStart in Sudbury, and the rural community it serves, is among the many charities which are feeling the repercussions of the demise of Age UK.

The charity worked in partnership with Age UK, subletting part of its building on Martins Road, Sudbury, providing daily transport for up to ten elderly clients a day, ferrying them from their homes to the centre and back for rest, respite and socialising.

GoStart also ran bus services for people who are disabled, elderly or disadvantaged or living in isolation in the Sudbury area, transporting them to hospital, doctors and dentist appointments and taking them on shopping trips and on visits to relatives. It also collected and delivered 580 prescriptions during the pandemic alone.

It also ran trips on Sundays after its clients said it they found it to be the loneliest day of the week, operating up to two buses at a time to take them on trips to the seaside, costing just £3 for the day.

GoStart also run bus services for people who are disabled, elderly or disadvantaged or living in isolation. Picture: GEMMA JARVISGoStart also run bus services for people who are disabled, elderly or disadvantaged or living in isolation. Picture: GEMMA JARVIS

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Now it has lost its income stream from Age UK and is facing losing its premises which it sublet from the charity.

Manager of GoStart, John Phillips, received a notice from receivers after Age UK’s announcement, confirming that the charity had gone into liquidation.

Mr Phillips said: “It affects the people more than it affects us. There’s up to 40 people overall within the community that we provided a form of relief for, and their families who also needed a break.

Mr Phillips said: “Once the pandemic started we had five vehicles in use and immediately moth-balled two of them as we couldn’t operate as normal.Mr Phillips said: “Once the pandemic started we had five vehicles in use and immediately moth-balled two of them as we couldn’t operate as normal." Picture: GEMMA JARVIS

“The majority of people that we helped were dementia patients. Some have expressed their sorrow at not being able to get out.

“Once the pandemic started we had five vehicles in use and immediately moth-balled two of them as we couldn’t operate as normal. We had to take one person at a time due to social distancing - and transported people to their appointments who otherwise wouldn’t have been able to get there.

“The people concerned have lost their transport, they’ve lost their day out and as a result, some of them will lose their sanity because it will have a detrimental effect on their mental health.”

“Age UK was an income stream for us and it was the only one left in a large area. We’ve lost the income for that which will hit us hard.”

Relying on government grants throughout Covid-19, the charity is “anxious” as to how it is going to maintain its services without Age UK once lockdown is fully lifted and normal services are resumed.

“The grants have been an absolute blessing as we have had to spend a fortune on PPE, new vacuum cleaners and sanitation products to thoroughly clean the buses. I’m anxious.

“We hope we are going to be able stay here. We hope there’s going to be a new tenant and that they are going to continue to run a day centre.

“We want to stay here, we want to keep the service going and rebuild which is going to take us a while. We’re only operating a door-to-door service every Tuesday and Thursday now.

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“We’ve almost had to start from scratch. We’ll survive but where we’ll survive we don’t know. We need a small office to run the charity from and somewhere to put the vehicles.

“If nobody takes over the Age UK premises with a similar aim, we are going to have to move. We can’t afford to rent an entire building.

“We really need someone to take over this centre - think about the people deprived of their day centre. They’re the ones we need to put the emphasis on.”

A spokesman on behalf of Age UK said: “Any parties interested in delivering a day service from that site in the future should contact the appointed liquidators who are dealing with all negotiations.

“I think its important to say that our priorities through the last two weeks have been to ensure that we have worked with other organisations to ensure that older people know where else they can turn to locally for support, and to support our staff and volunteers at this difficult time.”

If you can help or for more information, contact GoStart Sudbury on 01787 242116 or email: gostart.ct@gmail.com

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