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Penzance's Pengarth Centre faces cash crisis if Cornwall Council cuts grant

By The Cornishman  |  Posted: November 10, 2013

  • Pengarth manager Sharon Mitchell. PZPM20131105B-002_C.JPG

  • Pengarth manager Sharon Mitchell chats with clients of the day centre.

  • Pengarth manager Sharon Mitchell. PZPM20131105B-001_C.JPG

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A MUCH-loved day centre which has been making life a little easier for hundreds of elderly folk for almost 50 years faces an uphill struggle to keep going.

The Pengarth Centre, which has been operating in Penzance's Morrab Gardens since 1967, has learnt that the annual grant it receives from Cornwall Council could disappear.

Employing nine part-time and full-time staff, with another six or seven volunteers helping out, Pengarth welcomes about 80 or 90 people every week and cooks well over 400 meals, either for its day clients or for people in their homes.

Games and entertainment are often organised and Pengarth also offers a hair salon, chiropody clinic and bathing facilities.

This year the centre received a £12,300 subsidy from Cornwall Council, which was down from the £15,300 it had received for each of the previous four years, but from April 2014 it faces the prospect of receiving nothing at all, according to trustee Eric Parton, who has worked as a volunteer there for 30 years.

On Monday he appealed for a £10,000-a-year grant from Penzance Town Council, saying: "There are no reserves left. They've all been spent on catching up with the disappearing grant system."

Sharon Mitchell, Pengarth's manager, said she thought the centre would survive but that the withdrawal of the subsidy, if not replaced, would leave "a big hole".

"We would probably be able to cover our day-to-day running costs with the income we get from our clients and from referrals but the Cornwall Council money is very helpful for other expenses. For example, in the last year we have had to replace the boiler and the cars.

"Without the subsidy, it would mean that the staff and trustees would have to work much harder to get people to come to use the centre – we need the support of the community, not just in terms of giving us money but also coming here and using our services. We are in an ageing building and more expenses will crop up in future years."

Penzance councillors, who will discuss the request from Pengarth trustees at a future date, expressed shock that Cornwall Council could be axing its subsidy.

Cornelius Olivier said the centre seemed to "be having the rug pulled from under its feet", and Ruth Lewarne said that the possible withdrawal of the subsidy was "intolerable" while Fiona Thomas-Lambourn said it would be a "complete disaster".

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