‘Death by a thousand cuts’ as carers charity plans to close

All nine staff are set to be made redundant at the end of March

(Photograph: Sabine van Erp/Pixabay)

A Norfolk-based charity that supports unpaid carers has announced plans to close due to funding challenges after a loss of council funding.

West Norfolk Carers, which had an income of slightly more than £200,000 in 2021/22, will close at the end of March, making all of its nine staff redundant. The charity also has about 30 volunteers.

Jane Evans, chief executive of West Norfolk Carers, said the charity was “in a spiral” due to funding challenges and it was not sustainable to continue operating.

“It wasn’t an easy decision but we got to the point where if we continued it would put the board in a very difficult position,” Evans said.

The difficulties in securing funding date back to 2017, she said, when Norfolk County Council began adhering to the European commissioning rules that stipulate contracts must be put out to tender.

The charity was unsuccessful in its bid, resulting in a loss of core funding amounting to between £60,000 and £70,000 a year.

But Evans said the decision to close was not due to a “single slash of a knife”, but “more like death by a thousand cuts”.

Although the charity managed to secure grant funding for a period, in recent years it became harder to secure this type of funding, she said.

“Two or three years ago I could pretty much guarantee that any grant I applied for would be successful, but over the last couple of years, we’ve seen more unsuccessful bids.

“Funders would say that there would be nothing wrong with our application – we just didn’t make it over the line.”

Evans added that the cost-of-living crisis had also massively affected the charity because it did not have the core funding available to account for the increased cost of bills.

“The gap that the organisation will leave will be really huge,” she said. “We’ve been in the voluntary sector for about 30 years, and in that time we’ve supported a great number of people and they are really distressed when they consider the gap that will leave.”

WNC has about 4,000 carers on its database for the year, 600 of whom are young carers.

Evans said the charity was working with different services to ensure its service users continued to receive support.

While these are not local services, she said she hoped to build a local presence with organisations that are keen to support the carers on WNC’s database.

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