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1. Service users with a milder learning disability may be pushed out of all services.
2. Many community facilities do not have the resources to meet the needs of people with learning disabilities.
3. People with complex needs will have less opportunity for social interaction.
4. People with learning disabilities will face prejudice and stigma when they go out to access community-based facilities.
5. Black and Minority Ethnic service users will face low staff morale, transport, communication and language barriers including prejudice and stigma.
6. Older BME carers may not ask for help or access social work services.
7. Service users may not get the right gender of staff to give personal care.
For the last 18 months service users and family members from the Kemback Street Users Group have been campaigning to keep their day centre open. Following a threatened legal action, the council agreed to rerun their consultation response. On Monday 9th Sept, the council discussed the report which came down on the side of closing Kemback Street. You can read the report by clicking here.
There were a number of clear and passionate speeches from the 3 deputations that were heard and some serious questions were heard. The council made a number of concessions. Under pressure from the campaigners they agreed that staff from Kemback could transfer over with any service users who moved to Wellgate. They also acknowledged that there were some factual errors in the consultant's report. But in the end the council committee voted along party lines and the decision was passed.
Campaigners have vowed to take a ten minute breather and to continue the fight. Already Thomson's solicitors have written to the council threatening further legal action. Watch this space for more developments,
On Wednesday 21st August, David Williams, Head of Social Work and Cllr Matt Kerr, lead for Health & Social Care spoke to people with learning disabilities and their families. Before the meeting campaigners wore "Gordon Matheson" masks in protest at the fact that the council leader wouldn't attend.
Inside the speaker received a rough reception as the worry and stress that people have been living with spilled over. Families talked about the challenges that their sons and daughters had faced during transition and how they dreaded more disruption. People with learning disabilities spoke up about how they valued their friendship, the security and the staff that they enjoyed.
Matt Kerr tried to reassure them that anybody who didn't go to a day centre any more would still get help to "maintain their friendships". However according to internal documents seen by LDAS this is likely to amount to no more than a "regular (possibly monthly) open ‘meet and greet event’. On an ongoing basis this could be tasked to the local coordinators when in post."
Rumours are beginning to emerge from deep within Edinburgh Council that a change of approach to supported employment in Edinburgh will be announced in September. After much discussion and a lot of campaigning, councillors from Edinburgh seem to be proposing a Status Quo approach for the next year. During that time, careful thought will be given to how new developments can be married with the existing structure of services to ensure that people continue to get support. Serious attention is likely to be given to whether competitive tendering is an appropriate way to manage supported employment services and a more constructive approach will be looked at.
This is likely to mean the Engine Shed will continue to receive financial support from Edinburgh City Council so the trainees, bakery, canteen and tofu users as well as staff can breathe easily.
Also those who use services like the Real Jobs Project to get into mainstream employment will not have to worry about their support being pulled away from them.
Other projects like the Woodhall, Scottish Braille Press, Intowork and Forth Sector will also benefit from this.