Respite care unit campaigners to demonstrate at Newport civic centre

South Wales Argus: PROTEST PLANNED: From left, Simon Harvey, his brother-in-law Nigel Atkins, Joan Dowsell and her son Warren are opposed to the closure of the New Willows respite care home in Newport PROTEST PLANNED: From left, Simon Harvey, his brother-in-law Nigel Atkins, Joan Dowsell and her son Warren are opposed to the closure of the New Willows respite care home in Newport

FAMILIES and carers who will be affected by the planned closure of the New Willows respite care home in Newport are taking their fight to the civic centre.

Under Newport City Council proposals the New Willows, which caters for adults with a range of condiitions including Asperger’s syndrome and autism, will be closed down to save around £124,000.

The families claim that many of their children will not be able to cope with a different type of care, particularly given that a common trait of autism-type conditions is that people find change very difficult.

The council has said it hopes the proposed changes would give service users and their families more choice.

The group, who call themselves SOS Newport, have now announced they are to protest against the decision at the civic centre on Wednesday ahead of the end of the consultation period on the plans.

Simon Harvey, whose brother-in-law, Nigel Atkins, 43, has William syndrome and uses New Willows, said: “We plan to demonstrate outside the civic centre instead on Wednesday, from 11am, and have requested the chairman of the council to accept the petition at noon.”

In a comment previously provided to the Argus by the council, Stuart Greenwell, strategic director of care and customers, said the council is proposing to provide £400 a week directly to the families in lieu of the provision at NewWillows.

Mr Greenwell said: “The change is a really difficult one to expect people to feel comfortable about.

“What we have to do is provide people with information to see there are choices other than NewWillows.”

Mr Harvey said the petitions they had already collected had close to 1,500 signatures on them.

He said: “The support from the public has been amazing.

“I also have to say a big well-done must be given to 40-year-old Gareth Jenkins, who has Asperger’s syndrome.

Gareth has been around Newport with his sheets and has collected around 300 on his own.”

If you would like to sign the petition online visit www. change.org/petitions/ newport-city-councildrop- all-proposals-for-cutting- essential-social-services- to-the-most-needy.

Anyone who has completed sheets please telephone Simon Harvey 07815839153.

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