Delight as Portsmouth’s British Red Cross loan centre is saved

Paige Howitt

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THE British Red Cross has been told it can continue providing a service which lends wheelchairs and commodes to patients in Portsmouth.

Funding for the charity’s centre in Robinson Way, Anchorage Park, faced being cut by the end of March.

Solent NHS Trust, which commissions the service, said it was under review.

But it has decided to renew the contract, which means the centre will be open for a further 12 months.

The news has been welcomed by the British Red Cross.

Colin Brown, area operations director, said: ‘We deliver support services to thousands of people across Hampshire every year and we are happy to have concluded an agreement with our partners at Solent NHS Trust to continue this much-valued service.

‘We look forward to developing more services to meet the needs of people in crisis in Portsmouth over the coming period.’

The centre is run by a team of six volunteers and is open for two hours a day from Monday to Friday.

Wheelchairs and commodes are some the items loaned out to patients.

They are given for people to use for up to three months or longer.

Jean Preston, 72, of Hollam Road, Milton, is a patient who has used the service.

She borrowed a wheelchair from the centre for six months and had been concerned that some elderly people would lose their independence if it closed.

She said: ‘I had a major operation on my left leg last July.

‘It meant I needed a wheelchair for six months and I got that from the Red Cross.

‘When I heard it might be closing I was devastated, because they really do help.

‘Without it I would not be able to get out and about.

‘The ladies who volunteer there are really friendly too, so it would’ve been a shame to have lost them.

‘I’m really glad the service it staying.’

Further medical equipment is available for loan at the Community Equipment and Resource Centre, which is also in Robinson Way.