Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Day Centres' Protest

Forty people attended a protest meeting at St Clement's Church, Ordsall on Sat. 14th January, despite short notice.

Steve North, UNISON Secretary, explained the background to the Council's plans to stop funding two day centres, Humphrey Booth in Ordsall and Craig Hall in Irlam.  Ameen Hadi, UNISON Treasurer and shop steward for the workers involved, explained the council's cuts-driven strategy - 'Get a life not a service!'

There were lively and moving contributions from the floor, as people spoke about how valuable the support from the Humphrey Booth Centre had been for them.

Pensioners' representatives George Tapp and Alice Searle appealed to everyone to fight for their services.  George stressed that we must not allow ourselves to be divided - to stormy applause he declared: 'we fight for all the centres'.

There was a very generous offer from Richard Griffiths too - free coach transport from Humphrey Booth to the large protest meeting in Swinton on 21st!

A big thank you to Rev Sandra Kearney for the use of her church and for getting the message out.

St George's Consultation Meeting, 16th January

Salford City Council are going through the motions of consulting the public about the cuts to day centres.  SAC Vice Chair Paul Gerrard attended the meeting at St George's, Cromwell Road, a centre for people with learning difficulties:

'We sat through a whole hour of Powerpoints, full of management speak and slogans.  I found the 'Get a life not a service' soundbite particularly patronising and offensive, suggesting that clients are too dependent and should sort themselves out.  The presenter seemed to think pensioners would jump at the chance of a tea-dance at the Lowry Outlet Centre for £8 - there were a few raised eye-brows at this.

They want five centres with 'multiple client groups' i.e. all centres deal with everyone's needs.  How can they possibly?  Real expertise, such as in work with Alzheimer's clients at Craig Hall, will be lost or diluted.  They freely admitted they need to 'move on' 200 service users i.e. they need them to disappear and start using private facilities.  How can we trust the council to make a proper assessment of people's needs if they already have a target of people they need to get off their books?  Everyone needs company, you don't need a tick box assessment to know that, and that is (part of) what the centres offer.

A further hour was spent in workshops.  An elderly couple on my table who had a 50 year old son with learning difficulties pointed out that there was already much less on offer at the centre than there used to be; another man whose mother died last week came to praise the work that the Humphrey Booth Centre had done for his mother, his wife had insisted he come to pay tribute to a centre the council has written off.

Two of us leafletted afterwards for the Swinton protest on 21st when the consultation meetings will all have been held.  People I spoke to afterwards were divided.  Some had been taken in by the 'new vision', others felt it was all cut and dried, but several were up for fighting and promised to come on the 21st.'

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