Category: Day Centre

OPPOSITION is being directed at council proposals to axe a mental health day centre.

Users of the Redbridge Resource Centre, Ley Street, Ilford, say council chiefs will have “blood on their hands” if they go through with proposals to close it for good.

They are looking at yearly savings of £551,000 by axing the Monday to Friday service, which has 145 active users, as well as closing a housing complex for those with mental health needs.

Ian Levene, of Mount Pleasant, Ilford, has been using the day centre for 10 years.

He said: “It’s a place where people can meet friends and can get on with their lives without being indoors all the time.”

Mr Levene added: “We know cuts have to me made – they (council chiefs) should cap their salaries. If they’ve been throwing money around for years and years, don’t blame us.”

The centre houses an art and TV room, as well as facilities for massage and quiet time.

Polly Kourtellas, 47, has relied on the centre for five years.

Polly, of Fullwell Avenue, Barkingside, said: “It helps me to not be isolated indoors. The only place I eat is at the centre.

“I’m on medication and if I feel isolated it makes me self-harm. It’s helped me a hell of a lot.”

Council bosses say relocating service users to existing schemes in the borough will be a “considerable challenge”.

The proposals are part of £5.8million of savings being made by the council to offset government budget cuts.

Town Hall bosses are also proposing to close Abury House, Aldborough Road North, Newbury Park, which is a supported accommodation complex with nine purpose-built flats for people with mental health needs…..

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From the Shields Gazette. 14th September 2010

PAGES 4 & 5 of Friday’s Gazette showed in eloquent detail how South Tyneside Council and the chosen lead members who share Cabinet responsibility are responsible for the demise of this borough over time.

First, let me say that I recognise the depleted budgets through the new coalition government that have been channelled down to councils, whatever their political persuasion.

However, it does not inform councils, as far as I am aware, how to manage that budget on a service-by-service basis, which is why I am appalled at the decision to stop subsidies to eight luncheon clubs and other charitable agents.

These meals are predominantly enjoyed by the aged and disabled, and in many instances are the only opportunity to socialise in an otherwise alien world it is their misfortune to inhabit. The saving – some £160,000 a year!…

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From the Shropshire Star. 16th September 2010

Blog:Life seems to be going on as normal in Shropshire despite the massive savings (or do we say cuts?) Shirehall bosses plan to make.

For example, from my office window I can see cars queuing to get on to a supermarket car park and early today the roads were heavy with traffic, lorries transporting goods and countless cars speeding people to work.

Sauntering along the town pavements were large numbers of secondary school pupils, chatting and laughing with, it would appear, hardly a care in the world.

Nothing seems different.

But a council can’t find savings of nearly £60 million over three years without something changing and someone being hurt.

This hit home at a meeting of the Shropshire Council cabinet which was considering a list of budget ideas of next year.

About £200,000 could be saved by closing the Grange day centre in Shrewsbury…..

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From the Shields Gazette. 9th September 2010.

CASH-strapped South Tyneside Council today announced swathing cuts to its provision of meals to day centres and luncheon clubs in the borough.

“The authority is to withdraw subsidised meals to eight luncheon clubs, and charitable organisations, impacting on hundreds of predominantly disabled and older people.

The council’s school meals service is to take over provision of meals to day centres as part of a re-organisation in Adult Social Care, designed to save about £160,000 a year.

Today a council boss blamed financial pressures from the coalition Government for “forcing us to into making some very difficult decisions”, with the authority facing up to the need to make about £16m savings over the next year.

But the decision was condemned by John Berry, the South Shields-based secretary of the North East Pensioners Association, who labelled it “a complete disgrace”.

He said: “Why target the most vulnerable in society with further cuts when they are already closing care homes?

“Before any final decision is made on this, we need to consult with government to see if these meals can be subsidised.

“They can’t just blame financial pressures. This is a very worrying development.”

The council provides more than 20,000 meals a year in day centres and luncheon clubs in the borough, charging £3.30 per meal.

But the authority says the actual cost of the meal is £8.87 – meaning it is subsidising each meal by £5.57.

The council is transferring meals currently provided by Adult Social Care to Wilfred Street, Hampden Street, Father James Walsh and the John Wright Day Centres to its Education Catering service. This will be provided from the Father James Walsh Day Centre kitchen in Hebburn.

But it will cease to directly provide or subsidise meals to eight luncheon clubs as well as charitable organisations – all of which are subsidised.” ….

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From the Swindon Advertiser. 27th August 2010.

“DAD Leslie Lancett is calling on the people of Swindon to have their say on the council cuts, after it was revealed that his daughter’s day care unit is on the hit list of cuts.

Mr Lancett, 72, of Toothill, has spoken out after the Adver revealed yesterday that only 18 people, or 0.01 per cent of the town’s 200,000 residents, have so far commented on the budget consultation.

His daughter Jolene, 33, who suffers from severe learning disabilities, has been attending the One Step Ahead day care centre in South Marston, for 14 years.

She spends four days a week at the centre, taking part in a number of activities including swimming, dancing and gardening.

Mr Lancett said: “They are all so happy at the centre, so secure and they have all progressed.

“It is their life, they can’t possibly take it away from them, if they did, they would regress so much.

“Jolene is comfortable in the company of similarly disabled people. She is not judged by them or the staff as she is by society and her individual special needs have been well catered for in a friendly and encouraging way.”

If the centre is closed when the council makes a decision in October, Mr Lancett said he would be left with no other option, but to give up his job as a shopkeeper in Chippenham to help care for his daughter.

“I would have to give up work and so would so many other people,” he said.”…….

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From The Bolton News. 31st August 2010.

“SOME of Bolton’s most vulnerable people will be among the casualties if proposals to shut disability day centres go ahead as part of the wave of spending cuts.

Parents and carers have made a heartfelt plea to Bolton Council chiefs to retain the under-threat service, earmarked for possible closure in a review of the council’s adult services.

But a council spokesman said: “Absolutely no decisions have been made at this stage about closing any day care centres or any other adult social care services in Bolton.

“Due to the need to achieve savings, we are having to consider all the options and we are talking to people about all the possibilities, and getting their views.

“We need to undertake this review because, as more people use their personal budgets differently and decide to use alternatives to traditional day services, we need to make sure money is being spent where people want it.

“We will consider all options over the next three months and will report back with firmer proposals by the end of 2010.”

Bolton Carers Forum — made up of parents of disabled adults who use the facilities — is launching a campaign against proposals to close the centres, which provide training and care for adults who have learning and physical disabilities.

Treasurer Brian Kenny, aged 72, whose son, Shaun, attends the Jubilee Centre in Halliwell, said: “He knows there is something going on and is very upset by it.”

Mr Kenny, of Little Lever, added: “The centres provide respite care for us. The average age of parents is 60-plus and it is a social forum for service users who take part in activities and go out on day trips.”

Some parents are too worried to tell their children about the proposals.

Rita Farrington, aged 66, of Horwich, has a son Andrew, aged 42, who attends Heaton Fold Centre. She said: “It is his life. I can’t tell him — it will affect his health.”…”

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A petition and letters sent to county hall to save centres in Bourne End and Beaconsfield

From the Bucks Free Press. 8th September 2010

“MORE signatures and letters calling for the day centres in Beaconsfield and Bourne End to remain open were sent to county hall before the end of the public consultation on Monday.

Seeleys House in Beaconsfield and the Bourne End day centre are under consultation by Buckinghamshire County Council who intend to shut around 20 day centres and open four or five new ones.

The Friends of Seeleys House sent a petition with more than 1000 signatures calling for its day centre to stay open saying it should be developed not destroyed and to re-think the proposals.

Mrs Trevallion has a 36-year-old daughter called Anna who is severely learning disabled as a result of brain damage when she was ten months old who uses Seeleys House.

She said: “There is also insufficient information to be able to judge whether or not the proposals if carried out would be an improvement to the lives of the Seeleys House and other day centre users.”

The Bourne End day centre in Wakeman Road was built in the 1980s and residents raised £45,000 towards the cost.

Resident Peter Willingham said the the day centre “is fit for purpose” and should be “turned over to the community to run.”” ….

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From the Manchester Evening News. September 8th 2010.

Two units in Macclesfield are set for closure. “Riseley Street respite unit, a learning disability care service, and Willows day centre, which provides social support services, are both facing the axe.

More than 130 people currently use the two services, but Central and Eastern Cheshire Primary Care Trust (CECPCT), which funds both, says the closures would have no negative impact on patients.

Riseley Street costs £245,000 a year to run and Willows Day Centre £561,000.

CECPCT says it faces a £1.4m shortfall in its mental health, learning disability, drug and alcohol treatment budget…….”

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The media hasn’t annoyed me too much over the last few days. No preposterous stories about disabled people claiming benefits whilst simultaneously being world famous lion tamers, using taxpayers’ cash for round the world solo hot air balloon trips, or employing a harem of illegal immigrants using Independent Living Funds.

So I thought I’d have a google to see if anything popped up. Nothing particularly exciting did, but there seems to be an increasing amount of stories about cuts to services for the disabled and mentally ill. Bearing in mind that many of these services provide a means of getting back into the work place or a step to voluntary work, these cuts can often appear to save money but in the long run are actually costing the country cash. So here’s a rundown of a few.

A garden in Southend, that provides horticultural therapy for upto 70 people with mental health problems, is facing cash shortfalls after the local council, PCT and lottery funding has either been reduced or ceased.

The Avondale mental health unit at the Royal Hospital in Preston (popn. 132,000) is threatened with closure. This would mean a trip to Chorley or Blackpool for service users, and would threaten a service opened only this year for 16-17 year olds, as well as causing concern that the (60+ a year) homeless people who use the service will have to return to sleeping rough.

A recycling scheme that provides training for people with learning disabilities in Leicestershire is under threat, with the County Council likely to withdraw funding. It has given people with Autism, Asperger’s Sydrome and Down’s Syndrome employment since 2006 as well as improving the quality of their lives and opportunities for further employment.

Croydon Council is scrapping the Community Business and Work scheme and the Community Enterprise Support Service . These two voluntary sector schemes tried to find jobs for people with disabilities, the CBW alone had helped to find employment for 100 people  since September 2009. They have also cut funding to Treetop’s Childrens Centre, which provides support and respite to families with children who have severe disabilities including autism and cerebral palsy.

Three Day Centres for people with mental health problems in Nottinghamshire are earmarked for closure. The County Council is following Government advice to assign people with ‘personal budgets’ to allow them to choose their own services, instead of funding the day centres. The fact that many people would choose to use their personal budget to attend the closed day centres does not seem to have occured to them

Leeds MIND is losing all funding from the NHS, which forms a quarter of its total revenue. This is going to lead to the closure of two of its projects, and the loss of 15 jobs.

The Enfield Clubhouse is facing a double threat. A place for people with severe and enduring mental health difficulties to socialise and engage in employment related activities, it is currently challenging a planning decision as well as facing funding cuts. Earlier this year, following demonstrations and a petition by local residents, it lost its planning permission to continue to use the premises as a non-residential dwelling. It had seemed likely that permission would be granted, until the neighbours’ demonstration, which seemed to be targeting the fact it is a service for people with mental illness. Placards bore slogans such as ‘We are not safe’ and ‘How many more’. Its worth noting that this demonstration took place on 24th June, less than 3 weeks after the Cumbrian shootings by Derrick Bird. There have been no incidents involving clubhouse members that would warrant such concerns.In addition to this threat, the local council has informed local voluntary sector organisations about their intention to withdraw all funding to mental health related employment initiatives from April 2011. This is a double blow to the clubhouse, and its future now hangs in the balance.

These are just a few of the many cuts to services for people with disabilities and mental health problems that have so far been announced. It seems likely that there will be many more popping up over the next few months, as the Government reduces funding to local councils.

Obviously cuts need to be made. However, it seems shortsighted that many of the organisations earmarked for closure are providing training and employment related functions. Closing these at a time when competition for every job is so fierce seems to be placing disabled people even further out of reach of employment. At the same time the Government is pushing people harder to find work, through cuts to DLA and Housing Benefit, and moving people from Incapacity Benefit onto Jobseekers’ Allowance and the work related group of ESA. These are often people who have been out of work for many years, and desperately need to increase their confidence and  skills if they are to stand a chance. The DWP is not providing this support, and these cuts mean that, for many, the voluntary sector will no longer provide it either.

In addition, these organisations provide an essential lifeline for socially isolated, vulnerable people. They can be quite literally lifesaving. Leaving funding concerns aside, our society cannot abandon the people who are least able to fight for their services.

Additional Links

Keep Middle Street Centre Open. Nottingham.

Gardening Project Hit with Cuts. Southend.