Monday, 4 April 2011

Alternative March 26th protest in Lancashire

Families from across Lancashire protesting at plans to close some of Lancashire's 8 respite centres for disabled children staged a demonstration on Saturday afternoon outside Accrington Town Hall to coincide with the protests against cuts taking place in London.

Families from Save Our Respite Establishments could not attend the protest in London due to their caring responsibilities but felt it was important that the local impact of national spending decisions was marked locally as this is where the consequences are being suffered. One parent attending the protest said "Other people may take their right to protest for granted, our voices are seldom heard".

At the budget meeting of the Full Council held on February 17th County Councillors voted through budget cuts totalling £179.1 million including £3 million to be cut by closing respite centres for disabled children. The approved budget document states that there will be "the closure of between one and two units in year one [2011/12] and additional establishments in subsequent years."

The respite centres provide vital breaks for families with disabled children which enable families to continue providing 24-7 lifelong care and their children to live at home within the family. A regular, routine break of sufficient length for families to recharge their batteries means both child and family can have a break from their caring situation and keeps families together.

A parent whose profoundly disabled daughter uses Maplewood House in Bamber Bridge said

"As yet we only know that Lancashire County Council intend to save £3million by closing unnamed and an unspecified number of units which is causing a great deal of anxiety.

I know that if Maplewood closes my family would be devastated. Stephanie enjoys her visits to Maplewood and myself and my other daughter Charlotte are able to enjoy some quality time together as at all other times we are consumed by caring for Steph. We want to care for Steph but need a regular break with each other to be able to continue to do so.

I felt moved to join the protest on Saturday to save the respite units across Lancashire so that families like ours can care for their children at home within the family rather than be forced into the harrowing decision of having to put our children in full-time care - a decision no family should have to make for lack of a proper break.

On Saturday we were approached by members of the public who expressed their support for us. I hope Lancashire County Councillors will listen to us."