THE Hollies Day Centre in Musselburgh may be forced to suspend its services for the elderly before the end of the year unless a major cash injection is received.

The warning was issued amidst an ongoing funding crisis being faced by the High Street facility.

The result of applications for grant aid to the Big Lottery Fund and Robertson Trust is currently awaited but manager Liz Shannon said: “If a major cash injection is not received imminently the centre will have to suspend services until funding applications submitted have been processed.”

That could result in a temporary closure of the centre, which runs an annexe for dementia sufferers, lunch club, public cafe, charity shop and other services such as a minibus and hairdresser.

The centre’s cash crisis was first highlighted in the Courier back in June when it was described as being “on its knees financially”, potentially having to close its doors.

After two years of talks, agreement had been reached between the Hollies trustees and East Lothian Health and Social Care Partnership that the status quo would remain at the day centre.

The health and social care partnership needs to provide at least 18 places of registered day care for people with complex care needs in Musselburgh in line with need identified as part of a wider review of older people’s day centres.

This led to the partnership and the Hollies exploring the options available, which ranged from potentially adapting the current building to accommodate 18 people through to looking at possible other buildings if the Hollies couldn’t be adapted. It was found that, in order to adapt the Hollies premises, the lunch club and public cafe would be lost at the expense of more than 100 users.

A consultation was carried out with service users which showed an “overwhelming consensus” for the Hollies to continue providing the service it does now for the people of Musselburgh.

Ms Shannon previously said that, while these “protracted negotiations” were happening, the Hollies was unable to apply for funding from sources usually available to it as it couldn’t give any future plans and development ideas to enhance the applications.

Although the council agreed to continue to give funding at the current level for this financial year, which was £82,000 to fund eight registered places for people with complex care needs, this is only part of the money needed to ensure the facility keeps operating.

Trustee Roger Knox said: “The situation at the moment is that the money which is coming in, although a respectable amount, is nowhere near enough to pay the staff, which is a big commitment and is unshakeable, and the bills for maintenance and consumables.

“If we think we are not going to pay the staff or the bills, we are going to have to give them notice that we are closing at least for a time until we get some certain funding.

“In the interim we’re keeping on looking for possible funding sources but so is everybody else. The last meeting of the trustees was almost entirely spent on ways of raising money.

“We don’t want to have to suspend services but we would rather do that than close permanently. Closing over the winter is not good because that’s when folk need the hot meals and somewhere warm to come and sit.”

He also feared that future funding from the council was “precarious”, adding: “It might cease entirely by the end of the financial year.”

Ms Shannon said the Hollies’ own fundraising was continuing with a cheese and wine evening on Friday, November 23, at 7.30pm in the centre. Those attending are asked to take along their own wine. The film The Fisherrow Fishwives – Preserving the Heritage of a Lost Community will be shown. Musical entertainment is staged by Glenkinchie. Tickets, priced £6.50, are available from the centre.

Ms Shannon also appealed for volunteers to join a sub-group to help deal with applications for funding.

An East Lothian Health and Social Care Partnership spokesperson said: “We will continue to fund any places that the Hollies Day Centre, registered with the Care Inspectorate, provides on the same basis as other day centres in East Lothian.

“We understand the decision by the Hollies to develop other services for the wider and older community. These services were not funded by East Lothian Council in the past and we would be happy to support the Hollies in applying to other funding bodies.

“Following the Hollies’ decision, given the inevitable increase in demand for day services in Musselburgh and surrounding communities, we are looking for a new venue to provide day services to those older people who require personal care.”