Parents and supporters of Charles House in West Heath are to attend this week’s full council meeting to hand in a petition and to express their opposition to the decision to move the services provided there to another facility in Erdington.

They are asking supporters to join them at the Council House at 1pm this Tuesday (4th April) to help gather signatures on the petition and show their support in numbers as the petition against the move is presented to council by Cllr Carole Griffiths.

Parents of children who use Charles House with Cllrs Carole Griffiths (left), Andy Cartwright (2nd left) and Julie Johnson (right)

Charles House provides respite care services for children with severe learning disabilities and its services are set to move across the city as part of Birmingham City Council’s budget reducing proposals.

Previous threat of closure

Charles House was previously threatened with closure in 2011/12 when the council proposed to move all respite care into foster placements. A staunch campaign was led by parents and supported by B31 Voices, Communities Against the Cuts and many local Labour politicians. After listening to parents’ views and receiving a petition of over 2600 signatories, the council backed down and maintained the invaluable service at its West Heath location. [Read about the previous campaign]

Relocating…

Although the council say there is to be no reduction in the level and amount of respite care on offer, they propose moving the service currently provided at Charles House to another facility at the other side of the city in Erdington in a cost saving merger.

Parents say “Save Charles House”

However, parents who have children that receive care from Charles House are concerned about the affect such a big change would mean to their children.

Louise Fage from Selly Oak relies on Charles House to help her care for her 9 year old son, Owen. Owen is diagnosed with Autism and Hypermobility and needs full supervision and assistance with almost all daily tasks.

Louise says it took Owen 12 months to settle in at Charles house, which is now like a second home, and she’s concerned about the pressures the change would put on her son. She said: “Charles House have made a massive positive impact on Owen: his confidence, his speech, learning to dress himself and gain independence.”

Louise’s main concern is the disruption any move would mean for Owen’s routine. She said: “There are many reasons why the proposed move is unsuitable for Owen and the majority of the other children. Owen’s main structure of life is routine! Without a new place, new people, a 2 hour bus journey to school and back – he has enough to deal with.”

She believes that having to get used to new surroundings, routines and staff will result in confusion and distress for the children currently under the care of Charles House.

Consultation & Campaign

Council representatives have met with parents and staff to discuss the proposals as they consider the option.

Parents have set up a Facebook group for anyone who wants to support their campaign to keep Charles House’s services open at their current location. You can join the group here

They are also asking people to sign their petition to Save Charles House

The group are also asking supporters to join them at the Council House at 1pm this Tuesday (4th April) to help gather signatures on the petition and show their support in numbers as the petition against the move is presented to council by Cllr Carole Griffiths.

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