Battle to save Norwich stroke group in Thorpe St Andrew

The battle has begun to save a long-established support group which has been helping stroke survivors for more than two decades.

As previously reported, the stroke support group based at the St Andrew's Centre, in Thorpe St Andrew, is under threat of closure.

The group is one of six in Norfolk and north Suffolk which is set to see its funding run out at the end of next month.

Crunch talks took place yesterday between the Stroke Association, NHS Norfolk and Norfolk County Council.

Meanwhile, dozens of members, their carers and former Norwich North MP and stroke survivor Ian Gibson gathered at the Thunder Lane centre to voice their concerns and hear about the group's options.

Dr Gibson, who suffered a stroke in 2004, said: 'We are seeing decisions made simply on the basis of cost cutting; they are not looking at the value the service is providing.'

During the meeting, it was heard how the group had been a lifeline to a number of members, helping them with their communication skills, physical health and mental wellbeing.

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Miora Anderton, 74, from Thorpe, who has volunteered at the group for 13 years, said: 'We have to keep it going if we can; it's something we have to fight for.'

Carole Watson, whose husband David is a member of the group, said how the group was also important for carers as well as the stroke survivors.

The pot of funding which runs out in March is believed to be �120,000. It is used to fund three members of staff who not only work at the support groups in Norwich, Wymondham, Aylsham, Sheringham, Great Yarmouth and Brandon, but also provide services at the Norfolk and Norwich, Colman and Norwich Community hospitals.

If the funding is withdrawn, the three paid staff members will be made redundant.

However, even without the funding, there is a possibility that the group could run independently with support from the Stroke Association.

Neil Chapman, assistant regional manager with the Stroke Association, who led the meeting, told the group: 'We won't abandon you.'

As previously reported, the bulk of the money had been provided by Norfolk adult social services, using a two-year grant from the Department of Health. Further funding had been provided by NHS Norfolk and Waveney.

Ian Ayres, deputy chief executive of NHS Norfolk and Waveney, said the loss of the time-limited money meant they did not have enough to sustain the Stroke Association's service.

Are you trying to save a community resource in the area where you live? Call reporter Kate Scotter on 01603 772326 or email