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Wayfarers workers still in fear of jobs 10 months after decision to sell Sandwich care home

By Eleanor Perkins

Staff at Wayfarers in Sandwich say they remain in limbo 10 months after they were told the care home would be sold.

The final decision to sell it as a going concern was made by cabinet member for adult social care and public health Graham Gibbens, following a Kent County Council committee meeting, in January.

The sale was to take place within nine to 12 months.

But 10 months later, staff say they have not been informed of a buyer and they continue to worry about their jobs.

Wayfarers is run by Kent County Council
Wayfarers is run by Kent County Council

Wayfarers, in St Bart’s Road, has 13 full time residents and 33 beds offering day and respite care. It employs about 50 staff.

The privatisation has always faced strong opposition from residents and community groups including the Friends of Wayfarers.

Friends chairman Dick Perry has recently written to KCC for an update.

He said: “I wrote to the office responsible for adult care and said I was still concerned and I hope that they would keep in mind that Sandwich needs Wayfarers.

“I had a response confirming their intention to find a buyer for Wayfarers so they haven’t moved on that.

“Most of us feel they’re finding it difficult to find a buyer because it needs modernising.

“We’re concerned that the site would make for a good development but KCC remain that it will stay a home to look after the elderly.

“It’s all a situation of doubt but we just have to remain hopeful.

“We have been promised that we would be kept up to date.”

Wayfarers in Sandwich has been sold by KCC
Wayfarers in Sandwich has been sold by KCC

Mayor of Sandwich Cllr Paul Graeme said: “Communication is very important and staff should be kept fully aware of what is happening with the sale for the benefit of them, their families and the community.”

He would like to see a condition attached to the sale which states it will remain a home for a period of at least five to 10 years.

He said: “We want the place to stay. It needs a bit of money spent on it but it’s a valuable facility in Sandwich and there isn’t much else like it.”

A Kent County Council spokesman Jo Toscano said: “We are finalising the plan to put Wayfarers on the market, for sale, as a going concern and we will be communicating with residents, staff and stakeholders throughout December to update them on the approach and timescales.”

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