Volunteers make plea to save Red Cross centre in St Neots

British Red Cross

British Red Cross - Credit: Archant

An organisation that supplies mobility aids to people in and around St Neots insists it is committed to the town despite fears from volunteers that plans are under way for its closure.

Volunteers at the British Red Cross mobility aid centre have become outraged that staff from the charity’s head office have made claims that the service will cease to exist after its current home has become “condemned”.

The building, in Cemetery Road, was deemed not fit-for-purpose late last year and, according to volunteers, was due to be shut down at the end of 2016 but the group have been pleading with British Red Cross to continue the service.

“We deal with hundreds of people each year and they would be unable to collect their mobility aids, particularly people ready for discharge at Hinchingbrooke Hospital,” volunteer, Dorel Darton, said.

“The future could mean people will have to travel to Cambridge or Harlow, or they can go online and order it but they will have to wait.”

Currently, the volunteers are working out of the neighbouring Salvation Army but they say it is becoming increasingly difficult.

“We can’t keep equipment in there so when someone drives up they come into St Johns then we have to go into the original base to select what they need then go back into the St Johns,” Mrs Darton added.

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In a bid to save the service the volunteers have been suggesting alternative locations which, they say, have been turned down by British Red Cross.

Volunteer Maureen Childerley said: “When I found somewhere they said ‘we aren’t going to pay rent’, if we go in someone else’s building we have got to pay.

“St Neots is getting bigger and bigger. It would be a knock back for St Neots if we lose the service because it’s been here for so long.”

Despite the concerns, the British Red Cross insists that it is committed to maintaining the service in the town.

Geoff Cheshire, head of mobility aids service operations, said: “We have been looking at the suitability and viability of the St Neot’s building and have decided it is no longer suitable. While it has been used for the mobility aids service for 30 years, a number of factors make it no longer fit-for-purpose for the services that the Red Cross aims to provide.

“We are looking to find a long-term alternative property from which to operate, taking into account local needs and circumstances.”