SHOCK and disappointment has greeted news that Age UK Bromsgrove, Redditch & Wyre Forest is to close its town centre offices in Redditch.
Under a ‘rationalisation’ programme to ‘make cost savings and improve efficiency’ the charity is pulling back its office operation to Bromsgrove from Monday, April 30.
The decision comes just two years after the charity merged its stand-alone Redditch base with those in Bromsgrove and Wyre Forest.
Age UK Bromsgrove, Redditch & Wyre Forest’s own figures estimate Redditch has a population of 14,643 aged 65 and over.
“We are extremely disappointed. They say they will provide the same service from Bromsgrove, but how will that impact on someone needing help in Lodge Park or Greenlands?” said Councillor Pat Witherspoon, the chair of Redditch Older People’s Forum.
“We believe that when the merger occurred we lost something in Redditch and we have never got it back.”
Age UK Bromsgrove, Redditch & Wyre Forest, which has been operating out of the Ecumenical Centre, has issued new leaflets detailing the changes, which have also affected its Wyre Forest operation.
“We have a growing elderly population and it’s the human contact that is so important.
“And it’s not just the loneliness, it’s all the add-ons that come with an organisation like Age UK as it’s very much an umbrella organisation here in Redditch,” said Coun Witherspoon.
Age UK says that by consolidating the administration side into its Bromsgrove offices staff can focus on delivering a more flexible service for individuals through ‘home visits’.
A spokesperson said: “We are definitely not pulling out of Redditch, in fact we are looking for venues in Redditch we can use as a base for outreach work.
“Our information and advice service will still be there but the model of delivery will be different.
“These are challenging times, we have to look at how we can best support people and keeping offices open is costly.”
“From April 30, people seeking information and advice should contact our main enquiries number 01527 570490.
“If our team are unable to help with your query over the phone, arrangements will be made for one of our advisors to visit you in your home.
“We are also exploring ways in which we can operate an outreach service in order to maintain a visible presence in Redditch.”
Age UK Bromsgrove, Redditch & Wyre Forest is a local, independent charity supporting older people and their families across North Worcestershire.