Joy as popular Havant advice centre saved from axe

DELIGHT Wendy Morralee, information voluntary worker, Becky Hawke, assistant manager and Ann Wetton, information voluntary worker, outside the centre.  Picture: Sarah Standing ''(121271-7364)
DELIGHT Wendy Morralee, information voluntary worker, Becky Hawke, assistant manager and Ann Wetton, information voluntary worker, outside the centre. Picture: Sarah Standing ''(121271-7364)

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A FREE advice centre for the elderly has been saved at the 11th hour after being threatened with closure.

The past year has been an unsettling time for volunteers at the Age Concern Information and Resource Centre in Market Parade, Havant.

After funding was pulled by cash-strapped Hampshire County Council, the centre was faced with an uphill battle to stay afloat through fundraising.

Just as bosses at Age Concern Hampshire were poised to make a difficult decision over its future, they found out they had been successful in a grant application to the government.

A total of £70,000 has been awarded from the Advice Services Fund, a £16m pot of cash aimed at supporting advice organisations affected by public sector spending cuts.

Volunteers gathered at the centre to hear an announcement and some were expecting bad news.

But they erupted with joy as Yvette Christian, assistant director at Age Concern Hampshire, told them about the grant

She said ‘Just before the last trustees’ meeting we were going to be deciding what we were going to do.

‘We are having to underwrite it month after month.

‘But they wanted to keep it because it’s doing such a wonderful job for the people of Havant.

‘I am so delighted to tell you we have £70,000 to support the service for another year.

‘The trustees are delighted because they know what a wonderful resource it is here and how loyal and committed the volunteers are.’

The service is a one-stop shop for elderly people, offering free information and aids that help to keep pensioners independent in their own homes.

Jan Gough, who manages the centre, was delighted, but said the fundraising had to continue in earnest.

She said: ‘This is just breathing space for us.

‘For the next year we are going to be all out fundraising.’

Volunteer Susan Walker, 68, of Bellair Road, Havant, said: ‘People tell us we are easy to talk to, we are good listeners.

‘When people go out they say “I feel happy now”.

‘I feel I have done a good job then.’