Protest over plans to shut Newport disabled centre
IN driving rain and freezing cold, around 50 disabled adults and their carers stood in protest today outside the Civic Centre in Newport over plans to axe the New Willows respite care home and the Family Aid service in Newport.
The SOS Newport group wanted to protest at the council’s proposals which would see both the care home and the family aid service ended and carers given direct payments to spend on services as part of proposed budget cuts in social services.
Mary Jenkins, 71, from Bettws who cares for her son Gareth, 41, who has Aspergers’ Syndrome, said: "The New Willows has been a home from home for our children and somewhere they feel safe.
"When we took the petition round the people of Newport were queuing to sign it."
Gareth Jenkins, who had collected 500 signatures himself and has been going to the Willows for 20 years, said: "We’re trying really hard to keep it open. All the staff are really nice and we want to stop it closing."
Another mum, Alison Thomas, 55, from the Gaer says the family aid service had given her autistic son Gavin, 31, a social life.
"It has given them a friend and a social life which they wouldn’t have otherwise.
"The family aid support workers are amazing, it is not just a job for them.
"Our children are adults and don’t want to spend all their time with their parents. Autism can make them like hermits but the family aid service gives them a mate and gets them out the house."
Mrs Thomas said she worried that under the new proposals carers would all be fighting to access the same services, that prices would be driven meaning carers, many of whom are elderly and not in work, might not be able to afford care and that the new system would not be able to cope with their loved one’s very specific needs.
Around 29 jobs are potentially under threat from the proposals.
Peter Short, regional organiser for the trade union Unison, who had representatives at the process, said: "As a trade union we are deeply concerned about the potential staffing implications particularly in relation to the family aid service staff.
"You would expect something better out of a Labour authority than we do out of the coalition government but we obviously aren’t getting any favours."
Councillor Paul Cockeram came out to accept the protesters petition, which one of the organisers, Simon Harvey said had 6,377 names on it.