Users of Peterborough's Dementia Resource Centre plead with council not to slash budget in half

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Service users at Peterborough’s Dementia Resource Centre met with the council on Monday (July 9) at the centre.

Users of Peterborough’s Dementia Resource Centre have pleaded with the council to rethink its decision to cut the centre’s funding in half.

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Users met with representatives from the council- including Cabinet Member for Adults and Health Cllr Shabina Qayyum- on Monday (July 9) to hear the rationale behind the cuts and have their chance to ask questions of the decision.

Service users at Peterborough's Dementia Resource Centre.Service users at Peterborough's Dementia Resource Centre.
Service users at Peterborough's Dementia Resource Centre.

Cllr Qayyum moved to reassure attendees that the service would remain albeit in a modified form, and in a new building as of 2025, and that the areas that were to be cut would be to duplicates of assessment services already provided by the local authority and schemes that should be funded by the NHS, which the council can no longer afford to subsidise.

Cllr Qayyum further added that the council had fought hard to save the service after originally being told by central government that no funding would not be available at all.

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Following the meeting, the Peterborough Telegraph spoke to a number of residents who shared their concerns about the potential cuts to the service and what the resource centre means to them.

One carer said: “The staff are so needed. They are part of being able to help and support carers and people with dementia that come here everyday. They offer a lifeline to us.”

Norma, whose daughter Tracy runs the centre’s cafe on a non-profit basis, as well as Becket’s Tearoom at Peterborough Cathedral, added: “The staff here and the volunteers, let’s not forget, are wonderful. When I first came here, I thought I knew it all about caring for my husband because I had been a nurse and I stuck my nose into places where it probably wasn’t wanted but the staff and volunteers here have given me so much support, I would have gone under without them.”

Another resident said: “The only time most people who come here that are carers get to themselves is when they come here to York Road. I, like a lot who come here, look after my partner 100% of the time. The only time I get to myself if when I pay carers to take my partner out and when I come to York Road. There is a good community here with people I can talk to, the thought of seeing it destroyed is heart breaking.”

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Carer Valerie said: “When us unpaid carers get to breaking point, then what happens? The budget then will presumably have to go onto the NHS. It just seems totally illogical that dementia rates are increasing and carers need more and more help that money is being taken out of the budget and so much of it.”

As well as a team of staff, the centre also relies on the service of willing volunteers. One such volunteer is Heather, who has been volunteering at the centre for around ten years.

She said: “This place is a real gem with everything it provides here all in one hub. I don’t understand why the building needs to be sold and why things can’t be kept the simple and consistent for service users.

“I am a volunteer but also a carer and I know how horrendous changing the routine of people with dementia cane be. I remember taking my mother shopping and I decided to go a different way than I usually do and I saw the absolute panic set in until I reverted back to the original route.

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“Moving these people will be a huge ask. It needs to be about the human aspect more than just money. This is not like other conditions where you can get transplants, new limbs, we can’t replace the brain and it feels like there is nothing out there for us sometimes.”

Concerns were also raised about the location of the new building after the current centre is sold. The centre will remain at its current location on York Road until March 2025. A new location has been lined up but the council is at present, unable to reveal its location.

Fears were raised about how easy it would be to access if it were to be far from the city centre. One user said: “There’s people who haven’t got cars and have to pay for taxis, who probably won’t be able to get there if the centre moved away from the city centre.

“If people are going to have to get a bus all the way into town and out again or rely on lifts from friends, then they will simply be left stuck.”

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Carer Howard added: “There are only two places like this in the whole country. That is rubbish, they should be all over the place. It should be a priority and this centre should be a priority for the people of Peterborough and we need to look into everyway we can to raise money for it.

“There are more people than ever before getting diagnosed with dementia and there are not enough places around like this. We need to do whatever we can.”