Vital community life line for 25,000 people will be cut

Chief Officer Helen Smith
Chief Officer Helen Smith

A vital life line will leave more than 25,000 disabled and elderly people isolated after a community transport charity was forced to close.

Re-connect was set up in 2004 to offer a help to people aged over 50 to help them live independently and sociably with its WakeyBus scheme, befriending services and lunch clubs.

But next Friday the charity will close for good – despite the efforts of heartbroken staff and volunteers to find funding.

Manager Helen Smith said: “We have tried so hard to find the money to keep going. We have applied for so many grants but we weren’t successful.

“We’ve tried everything but that has all come to nothing and I am heartbroken for the people we help.

“The service users are so upset – I’m getting phone calls everyday from people who are crying. It’s devastating but there is nothing we can do.

“Re-connect is unique, it’s the only community transport charity in the district and now we’ve gone there is nothing.”

Other services offered by Re-connect, which was based at the Holiday Inn, on Queens Drive, Ossett, included befriending, gardening and DIY help, and coffee clubs.

When it started nine years ago, the charity had just five service users.

But over the years it grew rapidly with a total of 51 volunteers which offered help to more than 25,000 people

Mrs Smith said: “I have tried my very best to keep going. I sent e-mails to councillors, I wrote to our three MPs and I had no response.

“At the end of the day I think there is going to be a huge backlash from Re-connect closing. It might not take days or weeks but it will come.

“My biggest fear is for the people we helped – they will be isolated. “Who is going to pick them up and take them to the doctors, to the supermarket, to social clubs? The only other option is to get a taxi which is expensive and they won’t get any help getting in and out.”

To contact Re-connect before Friday call 01924 274400 or e-mail @reconnectwakefield.org.uk