Lack of funding threatens 'life-changing' group for older people in Fareham

A ‘life-changing’ group for vulnerable older people in Fareham has been left scrambling for support – after facing closure as it runs out of funding.

Tuesday, 2nd April 2019, 11:23 am
Updated Tuesday, 2nd April 2019, 11:27 am
Eve Burdfield, at the front, who runs the group with the members. Picture: Sarah Standing (250319-3935)

Tea, Talk, and ‘Tonk (short for French ball game petanque), based at the Fareham North West Community Centre, supports more than 40 older people from across Fareham – with the oldest member being 94 years old.

For more than three years, the club has provided dinner parties, days out to the seaside, and shopping trips for older people at risk of being isolated in their own homes.

Now the group’s future is uncertain as it has struggled to secure further grant funding. 

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Eve Burdfield, at the front, who runs the group with the members. Picture: Sarah Standing (250319-3935)

Eve Burdfield, the co-ordinator of the group, said: ‘It’s a lifeline - it has changed some people’s lives. 

‘Where will these people go? There are no other clubs like this.

‘If it dies, I don’t know what people will do. I dread to think.’

Peggy Long, 86, who has been attending the weekly group for three years, said: ‘When one of the women heard the news, she cried.

The group taking part in their weekly raffle. Picture: Sarah Standing (250319-3895)

‘She said, “What am I going to? This is the only place I go to.”

‘Lots of people here don’t have anyone.’

People attending the group pay for their own transport and contribute for refreshments, outings, and dinner evenings.

The Fareham North West Community Association, which manages the community centre, has allowed the group to continue to use their hall for free. 

But funding is needed for the group’s co-ordinator and other day-to-day costs.

Cllr Peter Davies, of the Fareham North West ward and a member of the community association, said: ‘We have our leisure and community team looking for another funding stream.

‘And we have staff from the NHS looking into this as well, as it’s a health issue. It’s a very good club, and we don’t want to see its work end.’

A representative from Community First, the group that administered the last grant, said it was ‘overwhelmed’ by the groundswell of local support for the group.

According to Age UK, the national charity that supports older people, more than three million older people live alone, with 2 million older people often feeling ignored or invisible.