We will fight to save our day centre

By Katie Bond »

THREE women with learning disabilities say they will take drastic measures to save their day centre from being axed.

The trio, who have used the Upham Road Resource Centre for a total of 28 years, say they will even camp out in the building to prevent Swindon Council shutting the unit in the latest round of budget cuts.

Kelly Szulc and Maria Bradford, both 29, and Sarah Baker, 33, have hit out at the council’s proposals to reduce day care provision in the town as part of its plans to ease the £48m budget shortfall.

Following a consultation at the centre yesterday, which the Adver were thrown out of, Kelly said she would take drastic action in a bid to keep Upham Road open.

We are not going to back down and just take it,” Kelly said.

I have set up petitions and have got over 500 people to sign them so far. I will do everything I can to stop it closing, I will stand outside with my banners or even move in to the building if I have to. We are a bit more independent than the other service users, but what are they going to do? Some of them are deaf and blind and some have severe learning disabilities and they are completely unaware of what is going on, they don’t understand. They will be stuck at home and won’t know what to do or where to go.”

The three women, who visit the centre all day for five days a week, say they are speaking on behalf of their friends at the centre who are not as independent as they are.

Sarah said:

We want to sort this out for them and for the staff who work really, really hard, and care for us. They don’t do it for the money, they do it because they care. What are we going to do without our dancing and all our activities, what will we do?”

In a letter to service users and family carers, Heather Mitchell, acting director for adult services, said the council will be visiting each day care centre over the next few weeks before any decisions are made.

She said: “Until now, people with learning disabilities have not had much choice about how to spend their time during the day and have usually only been offered a place at a day centre. If someone did not want to go to a day centre, there was nothing else to do.

We do want to talk to all the people using these services to hear from you about your ideas for how you want to live your life in the future.

We think that it is very important that you are helped to make your own decisions about your life.”

The council is set to make a decision on the proposals in October.

A spokesman for Swindon Council said: “We are currently reviewing our health and social care day centres and all service users and carers will have the chance to be involved in this process. No decisions will be made until the review is completed.”

From the Swindon Advertiser

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