A SUPPORT group set up to help stroke survivors in south east Northumberland has been forced to close after funding for the project came to end.
The Northumberland Peer Support Service was set up by the Stroke Association in April last year to help stroke survivors and their family cope with the changes after stroke, with information about stroke, practical advice and emotional support.
Sarah Taylor, long-term support coordinator of the Northumberland Peer Support Service, ran regular sessions at the Briardale Centre in Blyth but was forced to quit after funding came to an end last month.
Sarah, 40, of Whitley Bay, said: “It does frustrate me.
“Those people should have this service but obviously the local government do not know or are not interested about it and what they could provide for their people.
“There must be so many more people in the Northumberland area who have had a stroke and who struggle. It makes me really cross.
“I have been so upset about leaving.
“They appreciate what I have done and I have got a lot out of it too.
“They have given a lot of themselves and spoke honestly and candidly about strokes and problems they have had and that is what has made the bonds so strong between members.”
Local stroke sufferers have also spoke of their disappointment that Sarah will no longer be able to provide the service which has helped them rebuild their lives.
Fred Fuller, 74, of Woodside Avenue, Seaton Delaval, has suffered several minor strokes in the last ten years and attended the support group twice a month.
His wife Joyce said: “We have been going regularly and have found them to be of great help.
“My husband can talk to other stroke survivors and I have a chance to meet other carers.
“What we need is to highlight the need for professional coordinators to help stroke survivors and that means funding.
“If people knew about the help and support stroke survivors get from these meetings, perhaps more grants would be made available.”
Meanwhile, Derek Young, of North Ridge, Bedlington, received help and support from Sarah’s group after suffering a brain haemorrhage and prostate cancer.
The 67-year-old said: “I struggle with every day things and I find that this centre helps me with different things and it is also good company for me.
“I am very disappointed to find out that due to low funding that Sarah had to leave.”
Alan Bolton, chairman of the Blyth Stroke Support Group, also attended Sarah’s sessions following his stroke in 2007.
“I can not speak highly enough of Sarah,” he said.
“When I first started I was using a zimmer frame with not much prospects really.
“I could not drive but with her help and influence I have got my qualifications to drive again. I have my own car.”
He added: “She has been such an influence so much so I have decided to write a book about my life.
“I have learned how to use a computer. I am 73-years-old.
“This is all down to Sarah. She is a marvellous woman.
“I can not stress how big a miss she is.
“Sarah is really a first class woman.
“I can not imagine anybody doing as good a job as what she has done.
“She is great.”
Peter Moore, head of operations for Stroke Association North East, said: “The Northumberland Peer Support Service was a 12 month project beginning in May 2011 and funded by the North of England Cardiovascular Network.
“The service was extended until October 2012 but the funding has now ended.
“The aim of the service was to create networks and groups to enable stroke survivors and carers to share experiences and feel more confident, motivated and informed.
“The groups, set up by Sarah Taylor, have been very successful, and have had a huge and positive impact on stroke survivors and their carers.
“We are pleased we can continue supporting the groups through our North of Tyne Changing Lives Service.”