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Gwenda sad to say goodbye to Greenfields

PUBLISHED: 10:00 21 May 2010 | UPDATED: 09:43 01 August 2010

A STAUNCH supporter of a centre that provides care for people with learning disabilities has expressed her sadness that the facility will soon be closing.

A STAUNCH supporter of a centre that provides care for people with learning disabilities has expressed her sadness that the facility will soon be closing.

Greenfields, a cluster of bungalows on the Hales Hospital site, took over provision for people with learning difficulties, dementia and end of life health issues just over 20 years ago when the hospital closed.

The bungalows, which provide 24-hour care, were built just as the hospital was closing, and aimed to provide more homely lodgings for the residents.

But Greenfields will close at the end of June as part of an NHS drive to place residents into more community-based accommodation.

Gwenda Leah, who has been a member of the Friends of both Hales Hospital and Greenfields since the early 1950s, and the president of the Friends of Greenfield since 2000, has expressed her regret at the closure.

“It's very sad,” she said. “I've known some residents since Hales Hospital who are now in Greenfields. They were grand folk.”

The Friends of Hales Hospital were formed in 1950, and used to “adopt” residents who had no family or friends visitors. Coach trips were also arranged, as well as Christmas parties and a special social evening each month.

“When we arrived that evening there would be cheers from everyone and it was an evening of fun and laughter,” said Mrs Leah. “We had some hair-raising times! It's been a very humbling experience for me. It's been a wonderful place.”

She said that when Hales Hospital closed and Greenfields took over the social evenings were different but the residents still enjoyed themselves.

The Friends of Greenfields also held cheese and wine parties at Hales Hall to raise money for the residents' presents at Christmas, birthdays and Easter.

The Friends held their last meeting this month, and Mrs Leah said they were all sad to see it closing.

There are now only three residents left in Greenfields, who will be moved out by the end of June.

Interim Director of Learning Disabilities at Norfolk Community Health and Care (NCH&C), Bob Mee, said: “The closure of this service is part of an ongoing project, which aims to resettle the patients into more appropriate community-based accommodation, which we have been working closely with Norfolk County Council to achieve.

“All the patients who formerly used the Greenfields site will remain in Norfolk, the majority of whom have been able to access supported living services.”

Mrs Leah said the Beccles Lions, the Inner Wheel Club of Beccles, and the Rotary Club of Beccles had all given Greenfields unfailing support.

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