Club for old folk is facing cuts crisis

Bedford Guild House activities.
Bedford Guild House activities.

A good cause that puts on social activities for older folk could be forced to close if council cuts go ahead.

Bedford Guild House is rallying its supporters and asking them to object to cost-cutting measures that could put its future at risk.

Chief executive Sonia Minney said: “The worse case scenario is that we will have to close.

“We don’t know at this point in time how this will affect us. We will have to try and raise the money in other ways.

“If we are able to do that we don’t know but we will certainly try.”

The charity, set up in 1961, runs classes and keep fit sessions, which helps prevent older people from becoming isolated and depressed.

It receives a total of £25,000 in funding from Bedford Borough Council through two annual grants.

But the financial support could be scrapped under plans to review third sector grant funding and commissioning.

The review is part of Bedford Borough Council’s budget consultation as it attempts to plug a £25million funding gap by 2019.

Mrs Minney said: “We know they have got to save money. We have every sympathy with that, we just don’t think it should be us.”

Activities at the charity’s Harpur Street base include art, sewing, pilates, table tennis and tai chi.

“When people come here they have got something to do and someone to talk to,” said Mrs Minney.

In a letter asking supporters to object to the council cuts, charity chairman Ron Forster said: “We believe our service users could lose out by becoming socially isolated and depressed which could have the damaging effect on their physical and mental health.

“Maintaining good social relationships whether with peers, family, friends or the wider community, directly benefits the quality of life for older people.

“By using the services we offer, older people have a better opportunity to avoid these problems and are less likely to need support from social/care service which the borough council as a duty to provide.”