Rothbury House residents claim they have been 'left in the dark' over RAF Association plans to close respite centre
Residents say they have ‘been left in the dark’ in relation to the future of their homes, as a Northumberland respite care facility faces closure.
As previously reported, the RAF Association (RAFA) has entered into a period of consultation regarding the closure of Rothbury House, as well as its other Wing Breaks hotel facility at Weston-Super-Mare, following a major financial hit to the charity from Covid-19.
It means that 36 jobs in Rothbury are at risk, with redundancy consultations to conclude on Friday, June 17, but the proposals ‘do not include any of the Association’s independent living (sheltered and supported housing) facilities, whose residents will be unaffected’.
This includes the 10 Lord Tedder and Malcolm Court flats and it is understood that seven of these are occupied at present.
However, John Cox, a resident of Lord Tedder apartments, has raised concerns, given that they rely on Rothbury House for their utilities and other services.
“We don’t know what’s happening,” he said. “We have written to the landlords with our concerns and have had no letter back and no letters about what they are going to do.
“We get all of our heating, electricity, water from Rothbury House so you can understand our concerns. We just don’t know where we stand.”
Even if these issues are resolved, Mr Cox, who moved up from Derbyshire, says that the closure of the facility would still have a big impact on the lives of the residents.
“Most of us came here because there was a life in Rothbury House; we have a communal lounge there, we have our bar at night and there’s entertainment.
“I elected to come here because of that, but they don’t seem to be thinking of us.
“I’m the youngest here at 70, but the average age must be 80-plus. We are all concerned and we are not getting any answers.”
A RAFA spokeswoman said that a reply to the residents had been written and was going out to them in the post on Tuesday (June 30).
However, she explained that the charity did not want to speculate ahead of a decision, which is due at the trustees’ meeting on Wednesday, July 22, and therefore would not comment beyond what has already been set out about the situation so far.
The statement says: ‘The RAF Association has entered into a period of consultation regarding proposals to close its Wings Break hotel facilities at Rothbury House (from 31 July 2020) and to consider other ways of meeting the needs of guests who ordinarily would visit them for respite care breaks.’
It also explains that RAFA is facing a total impact of £10million from coronavirus through a fall in income of £7.3million this year and a £2.5million reduction in its investments.
‘These are extremely challenging times, but the Association is committed to continuing to provide much-needed support for all members of the RAF community who need it,’ it adds. ‘Due to the impact of Covid-19, the Association will not succeed in this unless it adapts accordingly.’