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Ashcroft Centre: Mental health unit for women saved

Anxious women Image copyright PA
Image caption The future of the Ashcroft Centre for women with mental health issues was put in doubt over budget cuts

A closure-threatened centre offering care services for women with mental health problems in Norfolk, has been saved, the BBC has been told.

Last month, it was revealed the county council hoped to save money by not renewing its contract for seven beds at the Ashcroft Centre, Wicklewood.

But after an outcry by supporters of the centre, negotiations restarted.

A compromise has now been agreed by the council and Julian Support, which runs the centre, to keep the centre open.

The county council had said it would not accept a weekly rate of £650 per person at the centre and would only pay £593.

'Fantastic support'

Ben Curran, head of operations at Julian Support, praised the public support for the centre - which saw an online petition against its closure signed by more than 3,000 people.

"The response has been absolutely fantastic. There was a really strong call from service users to maintain the service," he said.

Mr Curran said the service would be slightly reduced, providing seven beds for extended use (about six months) and one for respite care (one to two days).

Currently, the centre provides 14 beds.

"We have reached a compromise [on fees charged to council] that will allow us to provide a safe service," he said.

"It is really good news. It does mean changes. But the key thing is we continue to provide the service."

A spokesman for Norfolk County Council said: "We both recognise that Ashcroft is a valuable service that provides very specific support to a number of vulnerable women.

"Julian Support has been able to identify ways to reduce their costs and the council has increased its funding offer to a level which Julian Support believe would enable them to continue providing a safe and good quality level of care."

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