Council makes cuts to Arts Together

We have been informed that Wiltshire Council has reassessed members needs and removed the provision of transport for everyone. This puts an increased burden on Karolyne to organise and find funds to get members to the sessions. If you feel strongly about this decision you may want to write to your local MP or to the council directly. I have today sent letters by email to Duncan Hames MP (Chippenham), Claire Perry MP who serves the Arts Together constituency, and Laura Mayes Con Councillor at Wiltshire Council. I also wrote to the Guardian and Telegraph newspapers. Below is a copy of the letter, and below that names and addresses. We need to get ourselves heard and to challenge this serious threat to Arts Together and to all small voluntary organisations like ours.

I help run Arts Together, a small rural charity in Wiltshire that for 10 years has supported isolated older people with creative arts activities and social contacts every week in Pewsey, Marlborough and Devizes. Arts Together is a preventative service. There is sound evidence from research into the kind of work we do, that it promotes health, well-being and independence and counters isolation and depression. Our members tell us how important our service is to them but we believe it also saves money for Wiltshire Council and the NHS, by helping to prevent deterioration and subsequent demand on other services.

From April, 2011 our subsidised transport, which members rely upon, will be withdrawn. Why? Because Wiltshire Council has decided that our members, including those who have dementia or have suffered strokes, wheelchair users and the other older and frail people who depend on Arts Together, are no longer eligible for this minimal support.

We receive no other state support, relying on volunteers and donations and are constantly fund-raising in order to survive. Now these cuts threaten our existence. At best, we will be open only to those that can afford to pay for a taxi and who need minimal help. Most of our members will be excluded and we may not be able to continue. A vital social, creative and emotional lifeline for our members will be lost.
Claire Perry MP
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA
claire.perry.mp@parliament.uk

Laura Mayes
48 Roundway
Devizes
SN10 2HX
laura.mayes@wiltshire.gov.uk

Council contacts are on the Wiltshire website.