Little Sisters home to close

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AFTER 130 years of caring for the elderly and disabled, a Sunderland institution is to close.

The Little Sisters of the Poor, in Ettrick Grove, High Barnes, is shutting because there are not enough nuns able to keep caring for residents.

Although no date has been set for the closure, staff say they have been left with no choice but to announce the end of a service which has been embedded in the community for generations.

It is believed that there are about 20 residents being cared for at the home.

Sister Mary Chantal, of the Little Sisters, said: “After 130 years of service to the elderly in Sunderland, the Little Sisters of the Poor regret to announce that, due to lack of vocations, and an ageing community, we are obliged to withdraw from Holy Cross Home, High Barnes.

“This decision on the part of the congregation has not been made lightly, but is the result of much prayer and reflection.

“With sisters getting older and no replacements in view, it is becoming more difficult for us to manage the home. This is very much in the early stages and is not something that is going to happen in the immediate future.”

Sister Mary appealed to any firms interested in buying the home to come forward and continue caring for people in need.

“If it is possible to find an organisation to buy the home and continue the care of the elderly here in High Barnes, then we would be very happy about it.”

The group first started caring for people in the city in 1882.

After beginning in a house near St Benet’s Church, Monkwearmouth, they built Holy Cross Home, where they are today.

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People living nearby were upset to hear the home could close.

Denise Wright, 53, of Ettrick Grove, worked at the Little Sisters as a teenager.

She said: “My neighbours usually tell me about things like this but I had heard nothing.

“I just wonder what it is going to turn into now.

“I would like to see it stay the same if it could.”

Janet Cunningham, 64, who has lived in Ettrick Grove for 40 years, said: “I’m really quite surprised.

“I’ve been over there when they have had events on before.

“It’s really sad because it seems like it is well-used.”

Barnes Councillor Tony Morrissey said: “The home itself is something of an emblem for the Barnes area, and I’m confident it will remain as one long into the future.

“I’m sure the sisters will ensure that the new owners respect the terms and conditions of the existing employees.

“One possible concern among residents may be that a future owner would try to sell some of the grounds off for a housing development, but this has been turned down in the past so there’s no reason to expect anything different will happen in future.”

Fellow ward Councillor Michael Essl said: “They are a well-known institution in the Barnes area, and we can only wish them luck in their search to find someone to take them over after 130 years of doing excellent work in the community.”

l Have you got a family member or friend who will be affected by The Little Sisters’ closure? Call our newsdesk on 501 7326.

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