Wednesday, 10 August 2022

Charity grant request refused

THE Sue Ryder hospice at Nettlebed has had a grant request for more than £92,000 recommended for refusal.

It wanted to use the money towards replacement beds, mattresses and chairs to support their patients, reduce the risk of infection and help staff productivity.

But Henley Town Council’s finance strategy and management committee felt the amount was too much for them and that other funding sources should be tried first.

The hospice cared for 109 people from Henley last year and 330 people from across Oxfordshire, south Buckinghamshire and Berkshire.

The charity’s wish-list included three high/low beds and four tilting beds as well as eight pressure mattresses for its inpatient unit, costing about £47,000. It also wants 12 rise and recline chairs for its day hospice and three more for the inpatient unit, which cost another £40,000.

Sue Ryder also asked the town council to contribute towards the warranty on these items.

Hospice director Stewart Marks told last Tuesday’s committee meeting that it cost £3 million to run its services every year. He said: “Our focus is on maintaining people’s quality of life with a special multi-disciplinary team working to manage pain and supporting them so they spend their final days in dignity and then continuing to support their family after they have died.

“We are seeking support from the town council on a capital programme to replace equipment we need in the hospice. It will replace the equipment we have but is no longer fit for purpose. We spend a considerable amount of time making them work and repairing them.”

Councillor Will Hamilton called for the council to give the full amount but the committee did not agree.

He then asked the town council to approve a third of the funding required, saying it could be the last third once the charity had found funding for the rest.

“In my view, we should be doing more,” he said. “Let’s make a stand for this, we all know people who have been through there.”

But councillors Ian Reissmann, Julian Brookes and Henley Mayor Kellie Hinton all disagreed.

Councillor Reissmann said. “I think by giving awards that are near six figures we run the risk of being unable to award grants in the future. In the future we may be prepared to offer something in the later life of the funding programme.”

Councillor Hinton said: “They have a great need, and I understand that, but we are a parish council and we should not be a first port of call for money.”

Councillor Brookes added: “The charity does an incredible job in difficult circumstances.

“They clearly need money for this equipment but it’s a large amount and I think they should go to South Oxfordshire District Council and the Friends of Townlands Hospital first.”

The committee decided against awarding the grant to the hospice.

Meanwhile, brain injury charity Headway, based at Brunner Hall, in Greys Road, and the Bluebells Community Club, which meets at the Christ Church Centre, in Reading Road, asked for annual grants of £9,500 and £8,160, respectively, for rach of the next three years.

Representatives from both groups said services have been cut back due to a reduction in funding compared to previous years.

Zoe Lane, fund-raising manager for Headway, told the committee the charity had cut its day services from four days a week to two.

She said: “In the last 18 months we have seen a significant drop in our income. We work with local authorities and directly with clients to help support the services. We are running at two days a week currently but we hope to bring that up to three or four days in the future. ”

The committee decided to defer the the decision and agreed to meet with the charity to see how it could help.

The charity had hoped to use the grant towards music therapy sessions for the next two years. This is attended weekly by 15 to 20 people and helps improve memory recall, speech, awareness and boosts strength and coordination.

However, councillors did recommend an award of £2,500 as a community grant to cover 25 per cent of the cost of music therapy sessions for a year.

Councillors also unanimously agreed to recommend Bluebells, which has run in Henley for 17 years, their full grant.

The group has had to reduce its service from four days to two days a week and increase its daily charge due to cuts made by Oxfordshire County Council, which is responsible for adult social care.

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