The Learning Disability Alliance Scotland along with carers and service users have today launched a campaign to save an essential service for adults with learning disabilities in the Glasgow area.
Independence Options, a support service which supports adults with disabilities to become more confident and fit for work has had its funding withdrawn by Glasgow City Council in January of this year. By August, this service will be closed. Its parent organisation, Unity Enterprises has appealed against the cut and now LDAS has met with angry carers and service users and agreed to launch a campaign to save the service.
Independence options provides important support to help people become part of their community. Mark Davidson, who is supported to work at Wickes 2 days a week says, “Without their help, I would be unemployed without anything to do. They really help me keep my job.”
The service also helps people become more confident and outgoing by taking part in a range of varied activities. “My daughter has really grown in confidence since she has been with Independence Options. She was so withdrawn before, now she can speak with confidence and works behind the counter of a café, speaking and laughing with customers.”
Leading church groups within Glasgow have swung behind Independence Options writing to the Council urging them to hear the appeal.
Parents and service users were angry to hear that the reason the funding was being withdrawn was a plan by Glasgow Council to spend this money on more of its own services. A vital community service is being lost to add more staff to the council payroll.
Ian Hood, Coordinator of the Learning Disability Alliance Scotland said, “Too many councils think that they can change services without asking the people that use them what they think. Glasgow needs to invest more in services for people with learning disabilities, not reduce what is already available.”
Independence Options has never received a bad report from any council review and as recently as November the service was getting positive feedback from the council. By January the service was in turmoil.
Now parents, carers and service users are planning to send a deluge of letters to their local councillors and to meet with MSPs to try and get the council to rethink their plans.