British Red Cross announces closure of vital equipment unit in Essex
After running for over 60 years, the Mobility Aid Unit in Clacton, Essex, which is run by British Red Cross volunteers, has announced its closure on 28th September.
The Mobility Aid Unit has long provided much-needed equipment to patients, including wheelchairs and walking aids.
Pamela Wood, a volunteer at the Unit, said that at least 20 people used the service every week.
She told the Clacton Gazette: “There is quite an elderly population in Tendring and in particular a lot of people who need all sorts of aids to help them cope and recover.
“When people come out of hospital, the hospital doesn’t always provide what they need in terms of mobility issues and they will often refer people to us.”
She added that locals will not be able to come to the mobility equipment centre when it closes and that they will have to make a difficult journey to the next location in Colchester.
“We have had people in here crying, at a loss for what they will do,” she continued. “There was no consultation with us, the volunteers, beforehand.”
After the Red Cross moved the unit from Clacton town centre to an industrial estate last year, Pamela added that this move was hard for disabled people to access, and that the closure was the next step in shutting the service down.
“We are all very sad that after many years of service we have been told we are no longer required,” Pamela added. “We feel we are letting the community down, but the decision to close was taken entirely out of our hands.”
Michael Lascelles, British Red Cross Mobility Aids Hub Manager, said a review of the unit found it was no longer cost-effective.
“We aim to help as many people in crisis as we can,” he said. “To do this well we need to ensure we make best use of donors’ support and use our resources wisely.
“However, this doesn’t mean we are discontinuing the mobility aids service in the area.
“People can still borrow mobility aids from other Red Cross premises nearby, including Abbots Community Hall in Colchester, and we provide a home delivery service for users who are unable to collect equipment from our centres.”
The Hub Manager added that the Red Cross is considering other options, such as a pop-up service, which he says has helped in other areas.
He continued: “We have held a briefing with our volunteers to explain the situation and answer any questions they might have, and in the coming weeks we will be individually contacting our service users to communicate this change as sensitively as possible.
“The decision to close this centre does not reflect on the dedication and commitment of our amazing volunteers, without whom we could not provide support services for people in crisis.”