Desperate campaign to save centre from closing

DM1714245a.jpg. Dingemans Centre, Steyning, closing. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-170131-174637008
DM1714245a.jpg. Dingemans Centre, Steyning, closing. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-170131-174637008

Families have launched a desperate campaign to save a long-running centre from closure.

Dingemans Day Care Centre in Steyning will be shutting at the end of March due to issues with funding and falling numbers.

The organisation, which has been running for more than 15 years, hosts twice weekly sessions offering activities and day trips for people over the age of 55.

Doreen Rodbard has been attending the centre since September.

The 84-year-old suffers from Alzheimer’s and her daughter Sally Molineaux said the service had been vital in keeping her active and helping combat the disease.

She said: “If Dingemans closes she has nothing to do in the day.

“When she comes back from one of those sessions she is definitely more stimulated, she is much brighter in herself.

“I am worried for her just not having anything to do and just sitting in watching the television.”

Sally along with other family members whose loved ones use the facility have launched a campaign to keep the centre open.

She said: “It’s not just for me and my mum it’s for hundreds and hundreds of people to have this facility open for them.

“It seems very poor that we can have such a big area and such an affluent area and there’s no facility for them.”

Dingemans is run by charity Impact Initiatives and is partly funded by West Sussex County Council and Horsham District Council.

Caroline Ridley, chief executive at Impact Initiatives, said: “The last few years the grants we have had from West Sussex County Council and Horsham District Council haven’t covered the costs of running it so we have used our reserves to cover the service.

“Over the last 12 months the number of people attending have gone down.

“If they came back with £10,000 I am not sure we would continue what we are doing because the numbers are dwindling.”

She said the charity was looking at two options instead of running the centre.

One was to work with Saxon Weald, which owns the building where the sessions are run, helping to provide activities at Dingemans Court.

The other was using a minibus, owned by the charity, to pick people up and take them to the Henfield Haven Centre.

“We are not in the job of making people isolated,” Caroline said.

“We can’t carry on delivering what we are delivering but what we are doing is talking to those affected, particularly those we bring in from home, to see what we can do instead of having that old fashioned day centre.”

South Downs MP Nick Herbert said he was looking into this issue.

He said: “I’m concerned to learn that this service may not continue, although I understand that alternatives are being looked at. I’ve visited the Dingemans Centre on many occasions and I will do what I can to ensure that those who rely on the day care continue to have access to these valuable services.”

A county council spokesman said: “We are aware that Impact Initiatives, the organisation which runs the day activities at the Dingemans Centre, is looking at its viability and future provision of activities.

“We will work with the organisation to ensure customers are advised of alternative services which may be of interest and can transition to those as smoothly as possible.”

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