‘it’s a constant worry’

October 22, 2013

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Some pictures from a recent trip to North Yorkshire for the final piece in my Big Issue in the North series on austerity, to run over the next three weeks.

I’ve revisited three areas – the others being Stoke and Goldthorpe, South Yorkshire – for an update on how they have fared since I first visited to see the impact of cuts in 2011.

North Yorkshire is richer and more resilient. Yet a growing elderly and increasingly vulnerable population will sadly bear the brunt of cuts, which are focusing on care services and rural transport. Services have already disappeared.

I first met Christine Harker, above, on a bus in 2011. She epitomises the flinty spirit of the Dales. But without her weekly link to the outside world, she would be lost.

“We have never been without a service – but now we don’t know whether we will have a service. It’s a worrying thing for old people. The majority of them don’t have families, while some of them have families that live a long way away.”

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Sheila Robinson, 87, still lives in the picturesque rented row of cottages she did when I first met her  in 2011. She is a full-time carer for her daughter, who has learning difficulties and mental health problems.

She, too, is concerned about what the future brings. “When you are told that things are going to change it’s a constant worry.”

Volunteers are rallying around to preserve services. But when you are dealing with the most vulnerable people, living in some of the most remote areas of England, it feels like a real risk to run services on goodwill.