GUILD Care, one of Worthing’s oldest and largest charities, has seen ‘momentous change and growth’ in the past 12 months.

More than 60 people, including the Mayor and Mayoress of Worthing, attended the 23rd AGM to hear about the charity’s key achievements during 2017/18 and its plans for the future.

This has been a busy year for Guild Care, which is celebrating its 85th anniversary.

Over the last 12 months, the charity has helped over 3,500 people aged from five to 105 from the local community.

Chairman Allan Reid and Chief Executive Officer Suzanne Millard reviewed the incredible work that has taken place over this period including the joining together with another local charity - Worthing, Littlehampton and District Scope.

Mr Reid said: “This was a significant year for Guild Care, which saw momentous change and growth for the organisation.

“We had to dispose of Irene House following its closure at the beginning of 2017 and at the same time we took on the management of Worthing Scope.

“I would like to thank my fellow trustees, staff and volunteers for their commitment and support during this time.”

The full merger of Guild Care and Worthing Scope took place on Monday.

Suzanne said: “The full merger will make little immediate difference to how the services are run at Scope and the Worthing Scope name will continue as a trading name of Guild Care for the next few months until we have agreed how the brand should move forward.”

Like many other providers in the care sector, Guild Care has struggled over the past few years to recruit sufficient numbers of staff to run its services.

This is especially difficult within Worthing which has high employment rates at the present time.

Suzanne Millard, Guild Care CEO, said: “We know that the only way we can recruit the numbers of dedicated and committed staff we need is to ensure our terms and conditions of employment are amongst the best within the area.

“This year we committed to improving our hourly pay rates for lower paid care staff and other workers.”

Care homes are a major part of Guild Care’s business activity and it is a priority that it continues to improve the services they provide for the benefit of both current and future residents.

Guild Care has to undertake a major refurbishment of all its homes every 10 years and this year’s focus has been on Linfield House.

Another key area of work has been completing its Dementia Care Matters project at Haviland House and achieving a Level 3 ‘Butterfly’ kitemark by the end of the year for two of its households.