Day centre cash crisis

A funding crisis is looming for the popular Riverside Day Centre in Newton Stewart that could see it close down, unless the board manages to raise an eye-watering £40,000 each year.

The day centre in Riverside Road provides a meeting place for, primarily, the elderly and vulnerable of Newton Stewart and the Machars. The centre provides meals, activities, hai-
­dressing, advice and enter­tainment and is a valuable safety 
net for many in the community, who, without the social inter­action, may become lonely or 
depressed. Transport is pro­vided on a daily basis to bring users into the centre from other towns and villages in the area.

But from April 2014 the centre 
will lose a significant chunk of its funding, down from £82,166 to £58,677 due to the loss of a joint Dumfries and Galloway Council/NHS Dumfries and Gal­loway “top up” grant of around £23,500.

Chairman of the board Bill Stuart said the present level of funding kept the day centre in a “comfortable“ financial position but with costs rising yearly the pressure is on to raise enough money yearly to keep providing the high level of care the day centre is renowned for.

Bill said: “This news of the funding cut has come at a bad time and there is no sign of any national or political body coming up with anything to replace it. So it’s now up to the board to go cap in hand to the public to try to raise £40,000 a year to finance the centre for as long as we can. Every year it costs more to run. We now have to pay for the transport, and staff wages have gone up but the money we get has not increased accordingly and now we face this £25,000 cut.

“If we can’t raise £40,000 every year, then I can’t see the day centre lasting longer that around three more years.

“We can’t reduce our costs without reducing the service. We would never do that as those who depend on us the most would suffer. For many of the elderly in the area, coming to the day centre is the one thing they look forward to.”

Bill, who has been on the board for eight years, took over as chairman after the death of Tom Murray MBE last year. He is full of praise for his fellow board members, saying they are “a fine group” who are all dedicated to ensuring the survival of the centre. The 
board is now having brain­storm sessions to come with fundraising ideas.

Bill added: “We have got to be proactive. We want to put out an appeal to everyone out there to support our local day centre. It’s for everyone, so use it. Come and get your morning bacon rolls or pop in for a cup of coffee or tea. Every bit helps. We will do anything that brings in money.

“The meals here are of the highest quality. The meat comes from the local butcher and all the produce is sourced locally. One lady who sadly can’t come to the day centre any more still gets her day centre meal taken out to her by social services because she enjoys then so much. What would she do without us?”

The Coronation Day Centre in Stranraer is due to have its annual funding reduced next April from £101,741 to £79,761. A joint Dumfries and Galloway 
Council/NHS Dumfries and Gal­loway statement said: “There is 
a continuing commitment to 
support voluntary day centres 
as part of a network of sup­ports available to older people. In November 2012, the Community Health and Social Care Partnership Board agreed to: defer the tender for new voluntary day centre services for one year; continue core funding of £471,031 from April 1, 2014; extend the top-up funding for one further year (2013/14) using funding from the National Change Fund to allow centres stability while preparing for and going through the tender process, required by EU legislation.

“Funding for the Riverside Centre, Newton Stewart, is made up of core funding of £58,677 and top-up funding of £23,489. The level of funding for the Riverside Centre from April 1, 2014, when new tendered services will be in place, is still to be confirmed.

The council has made available £50,000 funding for training in 2012/13 to support both staff and management committees /boards of trustees to be ‘tender ready’ and ensure all policies and procedures are fit for purpose.

“The council will continue to support day centres in the lead up to the tender as they consider a more measured and sustainable approach to change and potentially new ways of providing day centre services in the future.”