Midhurst day centre is keen to expand service

The ‘Big Society’ group which has set up a pioneering day activity centre in Midhurst for elderly and vulnerable people is hoping to expand the service.

Rother Valley Together (RVT) was formed under the leadership of Colin Hughes after West Sussex County Council axed its day care service at the Grange Centre last year.

It has commissioned Age UK to run the service which opened for business in the former day care centre before Christmas four days a week offering hot lunches and a range of activities.

Already there are some 50 members attending every session and now RVT is keen to seek out more members and are looking further afield.

On Thursday Colin Hughes and fellow RVT member Margaret Guest approached Petworth town councillors asking them to work with them to provide funding for a Petworth-based service.

“We are looking at where our current members come from,” he said. “I suspect not many are coming from the Petworth area and we need to look at whether there are more people from here who would benefit from a service delivered in Petworth.

“If we want to do that, we know we are going to need finance and I am asking whether you would be able to put a sum of money aside with a view to delivering some services here.”

He said in the short term people could be bussed from the Petworth area to Midhurst, but if numbers showed there was a demand for a service in Petworth there were venues such as the Herbert Shiner centre which could be used. He added: “If we as town councillors don’t step up and do something, nothing is going to happen; increasingly we are going to have to take these sorts of roles on.”

But he said funding was key to the future and he had already written to all parishes asking for contributions.

Mrs Guest told the meeting: “We need to expand into the wider community and we think there are people there who would like a service closer to home – we need your assistance, I cannot stress enough how important it is for town councillors to take leadership in supporting this.”

Midhurst Town Council has allocated £2,500 for the service, and Petworth town councillors are to look at making a £600 contribution to RVT from grant money.

Chair of the finance committee Gordon Allan said there was £5,000 earmarked for grant funding in next year’s budget. “We have not allocated a specific amount to RVT because we did not know what was involved, but we can also discuss making a contribution out of next year’s grant funding.”