Call for volunteers with disability experience as charity struggles

Chair of the charity Margaret Oldham MBE.

Chair of the charity Margaret Oldham MBE. - Credit: Mick Howes

After more than three decades of support to thousands living with disabilities, the future of a vital charity is in doubt.

Disability Advice North East Suffolk has called for volunteers to continue their tireless efforts ahead of a boardroom reshuffle.

The Lowestoft-based group, which marks 35 years in 2021, became a charitable incorporated organisation in 2018, before rebranding from DIAL Lowestoft and Waveney the following year.

Disability Advice North East Suffolk base at Rotterdam Road in Lowestoft. Pictures; Mick Howes

Disability Advice North East Suffolk base at Rotterdam Road in Lowestoft. Pictures; Mick Howes - Credit: Archant

Chair Margaret Oldham will step down from the role and leave the board of trustees at the end of September to take up a similar post with the National Organisation for Disabled People.

She said the charity was set up for "disabled people to have more control over their lives, to live full lives as equal members of the community, and to enable them to overcome the day-to-day challenges and problems presented by their disabilities".

Mrs Oldham, who was made an MBE in the Queen's birthday honours list in 2011 for services to disabled people. said: "Over the years, thousands of people have been helped by the charity.

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"From 2008 to 2020, in just 12 of those 35 years, the number of enquiries amounted to 78,564 and well over £25m in additional benefits were added to the local economy, as well as helping the individuals who received them to improve their lives.

"Now, Disability Advice North East Suffolk is at a crossroads.

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"We need more people with disabilities, or people who have lived with the experience of disability, to help take the organisation forward.

"The board also needs other trustees, particularly people who have had experience in finance or in human resources.

"We want Disability Advice North East Suffolk to continue to help the many people who we know are struggling at the moment.

"The dedicated staff have continued to work from home throughout the pandemic and the effects of long Covid may mean even more people have to finish work and need help to sort out their lives and perhaps to claim their benefits.

"We help people of all ages and disabilities or long-term health issues, including mental health, and we cannot see this valuable resource disappear from our area as it would leave a huge hole."

Anyone interested in volunteering for the role, or who wishes to find out more, can call Mrs Oldham on 0771 4417 430.

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