A charity that runs arts projects for elderly, vulnerable people is under threat of closure after Wiltshire Council decided to withdraw transport for a third of its members.

Most people who attend Arts Together sessions in Devizes, Marlborough and Pewsey are in their eighties and nineties and are disabled or frail from strokes or dementia.

Following a re-assessment, Wiltshire Council has deemed 13 of the 36 users should no longer receive free transport from April as their needs “are not critical”.

The weekly sessions are held in sheltered housing schemes and activities include ceramics, painting, music and drama.

Arts Together manager Karolyne Fudge-Malik said the funding cut will seriously threaten the future of the ten-year-old charity. “Members affected can’t afford to pay,” she said. “We have difficulty raising funding. We live from hand to mouth.

“We set up Arts Together as a preventative service, to improve older people’s health and well-being so they have a reason for getting up in the morning. It makes such a big difference to their lives.”

Former mayor Terry Gaiger, 69, of Longcroft Road, Devizes, has been attending Arts Together for almost five years and is one of those whose funding is to be cut.

He is disabled following a stroke eight years ago and cannot walk. He said: “I’m sad that the funding is to be cut and I’m disappointed because there’s a really good atmosphere at the sessions.”

His wife Vicki said: “I shall be sorry for Terry that he can no longer go as it is one of his favourite pastimes and it’s also a small respite for me.”

Another member losing transport funding is Marie Barrett, 81, of Pewsey.

She has dementia and her daughter Janet McClean, an occupational therapist, said: “She loves chatting to people and feels she can offer help and support to the others there. The cut in funding is pennies to the local authority, it’s pitiful and I feel quite tearful.”

A Wiltshire Council spokesman said: “We need to ensure the council spends its money on people with critical/substantial needs.”

Four of the 13 users had said they would make their own way to the sessions, two had refused to be re-assessed and two would go to a session nearer their homes.

n Arts Together is appealing for local business to subsidise transport for a minimum of £2,500 a year. Call Karolyne Fudge-Malik on 07525 153425.