Service users and their relatives have launched a campaign to save a much loved Kings Norton Day Centre from closure.
Birmingham City Council are planning to close The Fairway Day Centre, which provides support for around 70 adults with physical and mental disabilities as well as older adults.
‘Significant financial challenge’
Cllr Paulette Hamilton, Birmingham City Council cabinet member for health and social care, said that the council are facing a “significant financial challenge” and that savings on day care were approved by cabinet in 2016.
She said: “Not all day centres are used to full capacity, with some buildings not fit for purpose, so we can provide a care service over fewer sites. Fairways is used much less than other centres, and is in need of considerable investment, so it is proposed that care is no longer provided there.”
Following consultation, several day centres across Birmingham are going through a process of being closed, with users being offered alternative services.
‘Behind closed doors’
However, users and their supporters at Fairway say that they have not been consulted on any potential closure and that the decision to close their centre has been made ‘behind closed doors’.
The council say they are currently talking to service users and their families about how different support could be provided following the closure.
Cllr Hamilton said: “This includes use of a direct payment, access to community resources, support at home and access to other council-run centres, ensuring that support and care is provided to meet eligible social care need and that support is provided in local communities close to home.”
Campaign to Save Fairway Day Centre
Service users have been sharing their stories to highlight how essential the centre is in their and their families lives.
She is cared for by her mother and her twice weekly visits to the centre are the only break her mother gets.
Angela said: “All the people here – and the staff – are like a family to me, and I don’t want to lose my family.”
88 year old John suffers from dementia and is cared for by his daughter, Wendi, who has been instrumental in setting up the campaign.
He spends 3 days a week at Fairway, singing, painting, playing dominoes and socialising.
Wendi says that doctors have said that the stimulation and support John receives at Fairway is vital to maintain his quality of life.
Jackie is 73 years old and has cerebral palsy. She is cared for by her 93 year old mother.
Jackie attends Fairway 5 days a week, which gives her mother much needed respite.
She has already had to change day centre twice due to closures and says: “It is always very difficult to adjust to the new centre and as I get older it becomes more disturbing and frightening.”
Jackie describes Fairway as her “lifeline”.
50 year old Ian has cerebral palsy and has been attending Fairway since he was 19 years old.
His mother is his main carer and he goes to the centre 5 times a week.
He’s worried other centres might not be able to cater for his particular special needs.
Ian says: “I simply need this day centre to feel human”.
Northfield’s Labour MP Richard Burden visited the centre earlier this week, along with Longbridge Councillor Carole Griffiths (Labour).
Mr Burden said he was deeply concerned about the proposal to close the centre. He said: “I was at the Fairway on Tuesday to listen to what care staff and people who use the services provided by the centre have to say. I was left in no doubt that the Fairway plays an important role in improving the quality of life of people with a range of learning disabilities and physical disabilities as well as of a number of older people.”
‘Fearful of the future’
Mr Burden said: “Several service users told me that without being able to go to the centre, they would be isolated at home and they are fearful of what the future will hold if the Council goes ahead with its plans.”
And he said he would be raising serious questions regarding the extent of consultation with the council’s Director of Adult Services, Dr Graeme Betts.
Dr Betts paid a short visit to Fairway yesterday before meeting today (Friday 6th October) with Mr Burden and Cllr Peter Griffiths (Lab, Kings Norton), Cllr Simon Jevon (Con, Kings Norton), Cllr Carole Griffiths (Lab, Longbridge) and Cllr Randal Brew (Con, Northfield).
‘Pressing for a rethink’
Following the meeting, Mr Burden said that Dr Betts had told him that the needs of each service user were being assessed and agreed that social needs would need to be provided for before the proposal to close the Centre is finalised. However, Mr Burden questioned whether there are comparable alternatives available and expressed concern that there had been inadequate consultation with users and their families before the Council had decided to recommend closure.
He said: “There is little doubt in my mind that once again, central government cuts to Birmingham are at the root of the threat to the Fairway but that does not make the proposal to close the centre the right response. That’s why I will be pressing for a rethink on the part of the Council.”