Stroke funding axe plan sparks re-think demand

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Campaigners are calling on town hall chiefs not to axe a grant which helps hundreds of people get back to living a normal life after suffering a stroke.

The Stroke Assocation receives £26,000 each year from Blackpool Council but the funding is under review as part of proposed budget cuts of £18.7m.

Jean Sherrington, 72, of Lawson Road, Marton, addressed a meeting of the council’s executive to appeal for them to protect the funding.

She said: “I suffered my first stroke in 2011 and then a second one in 2014.

“The help sufferers get thanks to this council grant is monumental when it comes to helping recovery.

“The role of the Stroke Association is priceless for supporting us to get back to a normal life, and stroke is affecting people of all ages in our town including many young people.

“The better supported people are after a stroke, regardless of age or circumstances, then the less dependent we are on the NHS and other council services.”

Chris Larkin, regional director at the Stroke Association in the North West, said: “We are very disappointed Blackpool Council is considering ceasing the funding for the Stroke Association’s Life After Stroke Service in Blackpool.

“Stroke is one of the largest causes of disability and a third of all stroke survivors need help with everyday tasks.

“Through our vital services, around 200 stroke survivors each year in Blackpool have received practical advice, emotional help and one-to-one support to help ensure they can make their best possible recovery.

“Stroke leaves people feeling frightened, isolated and alone.

“For a lot of stroke survivors in the area, the support received has been a lifeline and has given them hope for the future.”

He added the association would continue to try and ensure services were available for people in the town.

Coun Amy Cross, cabinet member for adult services and health on Blackpool Council, said: “We will be having budget consultation and the points raised will be taken into consideration as part of that consultation, and we’ll use that as part of the evidence base when we make our decision.”

‘I would have gone back to my old ways and not got any help’

Bill Clements, 52, from Blackpool, was a heavy smoker and drinker.

He was at work running his washing business, Billy’s Power Washing Restoration Specialist, when he started to experience strange feelings in his arm.

He ignored it and carried on working. After three weeks of the same feeling, he visited the doctor who prescribed medication for a trapped nerve.

After returning to work, a few days later he woke and could not open his right hand.

A trip to A&E at Blackpool Victoria Hospital resulted in Bill being told he had had a stroke.

After several brain scans and four days in hospital, Bill returned home to his partner’s house, as he could not climb the five flights of stairs in his own building.

He was left with weakness in his right arm and hand, meaning he was unable to grasp anything properly.

Bill was visited by the Stroke Association’s local Life After Stroke co-ordinator Sharon Hardman to support him throughout his recovery.

As well as advice and guidance about his stroke and its effects, Sharon supported Bill to return to work.

His weakness in his right hand meant he could no longer operate the machinery he used to run his newly formed business.

Sharon supported Bill to receive a Life After Stroke Grant from the Stroke Association, to pay for a new piece of machinery that would enable his return to work.

Bill said: “If it wasn’t for the Stroke Association I’d still be drinking and smoking, and certainly wouldn’t be in the situation I am now.

“Without Sharon’s visits, I would have gone back to my olds ways and not got any help.

“My stroke woke me up and encouraged me to put myself and my business first. I now no longer smoke, rarely drink and have completely turned my life around.”