Carers: Vulnerable are being discriminated against

VULNERABLE people are being thrown out of day centres and discriminated against, Glasgow carers claim.

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Parents and service users gather to ask why they are being forgotten about
Parents and service users gather to ask why they are being forgotten about

Parents of people with learning disabilities, who are former users of a centre which was demolished to make way for a car park, say their families' lives have been "ripped apart" by decisions to axe community facilities.

And today they warned other families in Glasgow about what they face, as the council plans to close three more day centres in a revamp of learning disability services.

As the Evening Times reported yesterday Glasgow MSPs are calling for a carers trust to take over services to prevent closure of Berryknowes in Cardonald, Hinshaw Street at Queen's Cross and Summerston, which are each used by around 130 people every week day.

Bosses say they are giving people with learning disabilities more choice by putting them and their carers in charge of their own budget so they can take part in the activities that interest them.

The plans follows a consultation and it will be considered at the Health and Social Care Policy Committee on March 6.

But action groups are warning that the move will exclude vulnerable Glasgow residents from society.

Family members of loved ones who attended the Accord Centre, in Dalmar-nock, before it was closed have expressed anger and frustration over the new proposals.

The East End centre was a lifeline to people who suffer from learning difficulties and conditions, including Down's Syndrome.

It was shut down at the end of March 2011 to make way for a bus and car park for the Commonwealth Games, after a high-profile campaign failed to save it.

Helen McCourt, 48, whose daughter Laura, 30, used the centre daily, said: "It is heartbreaking to see what the council is doing. Our whole lives have changed since the Accord was closed. It has affected our family in so many ways.

"Laura misses her friends, she has put on weight because she's not been able to move about in the same way.

"And she's not got this stability in her life any more.

"It is heart-breaking. I am fighting for these centres because I think they are good for everyone – the service users and the carers. There will always be a need for them.

"The council talks about modernisation... that is not modernisation."

Mary McArthur's daughter Cheryl, 34, also went to the centre.

Mary, 62, said: "The council just wants people like our children out the road. I would go so far to call it discrimination.

"They decided they would demolish the Accord centre and build a car park... why are they forgetting about Glasgow's most vulnerable citizens?

"Our lives have been ripped apart."

Cheryl added: "I could see my friends and spend time with them every day.

"We used to have the music room so we'd do Stars in their Eyes and other things like that."

CHERYL'S sister Tricia, 44, said: "Cheryl wants to spend time with her pals, she wants to spend time with the people she grew up with.

"There were sensory rooms, it was all fit for purpose. There was a full kitchen so they could make the dinners every day."

The ex-Accord service users now use the Banbury Centre, in a rundown area, near Celtic Park.

Tricia said: "They think it's fine to let my sister and the others go to the Banbury for a cup of tea in the morning then they get left for three hours in Morrisons' cafe.

"My sister doesn't want to sit in a cafe all day. If she did, we would take her."

Grace Harrigan, 44, whose son Craig Anderson, 27, has autism and Down's Syndrome, said: "The council is trying to make us employers but, although we are carers, we are family.

"They're putting a price on my son's head."

Grace said the only option was to rethink the future of services. She said: "The council has to stop closing these centres and they have to give the East End of Glasgow a facility fit for purpose as soon as possible.

"There's nothing here. There's nowhere to take them. A church hall with a drawing book and some crayons is not care.

"Leaving them in a shop cafe is not care."

If the plans get the go ahead, around 200 people with the most complex disabilities would continue to be supported in council-run day centres at Riddrie, Calton, The Wedge in Pollok, and Southbrae, Jordanhill.

Councillor Matt Kerr, executive member for social care, challenged the carers, saying he has not received any complaints from service users on centre closures.

He said: "If you go to day centres at 11am they are empty because people are going out and using other services.

"The demand for day centres is dropping.

"It is the law of the land that everyone has to get a personal budget and our plans put the choices in the hand of the carers.

"If service users want to spend time together they could hire out a room with their personal budgets."

rachel.loxton@eveningtimes.co.uk

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