Rother Valley Together: Group vows to continue support despite funding cuts

Rother Valley Together has vowed to continue its support of older people in Midhurst despite losing council funding.

In early 2021 the club found out West Sussex County Council would no longer be providing funding.

Margaret Guest, chair and founder RVT trustee, said: “We were very disappointed but determined to continue.

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“As trustees we are so proud of our brilliant staff team and loyal volunteers and their commitment to our members and to keeping the club open.

Macmillan coffee morning

“When members put on record comments such as ‘If I did not have the club, I would be very lonely and unhappy’ keep going and find the money’.”

A spokesperson for West Sussex County Council said: “Social isolation among older people across the whole of West Sussex is a serious concern. We actively work with partners to enable as many people as possible to lead happy, healthy and independent lives.

“We changed the way we allocate the limited funding available to give an equal distribution, directly linked to the number and circumstances of older people in each district and borough.

“Rother Valley Together has provided fantastic support to people living in Midhurst and the surrounding area for many years and we were disappointed to hear they felt unable to meet our current commissioning criteria.

Some members at table top pottery activity

“We are pleased that they continue to provide activities using money from their other sources of funding.”

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The club was founded in 2011 and in 2014 it moved to the Grange where it continues to provide a range of activities, hot cooked lunches and regular outings.

Margaret said: “As a local community we were determined to find a way of supporting our more vulnerable older people.

“A trust was established by the chair of Midhurst Town Council, with support from the local clergy and other community representatives. RVT became a registered charity and the County Council and local parishes generously provided financial support through grants.”

During the pandemic the club had to close but staff and volunteers kept in contact with members through weekly well-being telephone checks and friendly chat, delivering regular newsletters, fun activities, and puzzle packs.

The club reopened in May 2021 following Covid guidance to protect its volunteers and members.

Members, their families, individual donors, community funders and parish councils have provided financial support enabling the club to continue for at least a further year.

Margaret said: “However, if RVT is to have a long-term future, more funds are very urgently needed. If this is achieved, the future of the club for those who rely on it can be achieved.”

The club is due to re-open on January 25 with the required anti-Covid measures in place and staff are already planning a new and lively activity programme.

Caroline Henderson, RVT manager, said: “Many older people continue to struggle with social isolation and so we encourage those who wish to enjoy the company of others again to join our friendly club. We are also looking for more volunteers to assist as ‘bus buddies/escorts’ and to support our members with their chosen activities”

Anyone wishing to donate, discuss becoming a volunteer or to join as a member, should email [email protected] or visit www.rothervalleytogether.co.uk