Desperate service users of a mental health care drop-in centre threatened with closure staged a demonstration outside Ealing Town Hall last night.

The Solace Centre acts as a ‘life line’ for mentally ill adults offering them an out of hours refuge seven days a week 365 days a year.

Over 25 of its members gathered with placards to demonstrate against the council's proposal to close the centre.

However users could be fighting a loosing battle in the face of vast and sweeping cuts recently announced by the council.

Lincoln Baboolal, 67, who is bipolar, said: "This all terribly upsetting. There is no where else for us to go. We do not want or need personal budgets. We need a place to go where we are understood and supported."

Another service user who suffers with bipolar disorder, Dympna Bolger, said: "We are all in a state of shock. This centre is literally our life line. It is run on a shoe string as it is with only three full time members of staff. I can't see how it can possibly be cost effective to offer us all individual sums of money when this closure will result in many of us going down hill and possibly ending up back in hospital."

Councillor John Ball, who attended last night's demonstration said: "The Solace Centre is hugely valuable as it provides a unique 365-day-a-year self-referring drop-in service. We should be trying to increase the parity of esteem of mental health services with physical health and prioritise early intervention. At a cost of between £103k and £187k a year, the Solace Centre provides very good value for money as it prevents many service users from needing expensive acute care and many of the activities there are on a self-help basis.

"I completely oppose the Labour administration's proposal to close the Solace Centre and threaten this vital service for vulnerable people."

In response to unprecedented cuts in the council’s government funding, the council’s cabinet will consider proposals to cut £56million from the council’s budget on Tuesday, 25 November.

The Solace centre has been named today as being one of the services being considered for closure.

Councillor Yvonne Johnson, cabinet member for finance, performance and welfare, said: “Although our financial position is very challenging and change is going to be difficult we know that the best approach is to robustly manage these budget reductions and act decisively.

“We have tried to be as fair as possible and limit the impact on our residents. We are being as open as possible because we want people to understand the scale and impact that these cuts will have on council services.”

The latest proposals will contribute to the £96million of budget reductions the council needs to make by April 2019.

This is on top of the £87million of budget reductions the council has already made over the past four years.

In addition to major cuts to Ealing’s central government grants, inflation, rising demands for services, combined with no additional money to cope with a growing population will leave the council unable to continue to fund services at the same level. Money for schools and housing benefit is separate and largely not in the council’s control.

If the proposals for Ealing are agreed, it will mean the end of some services and for others to change beyond recognition.

A council spokesperson said: “Further massive cuts to our budget from central government mean that we are having to fundamentally change the way we run services and we are consulting on the proposal to close the Solace Centre. No decision has been made yet and we encourage people to send their comments to .

“If a decision is made to close the centre, all eligible customers will be helped to use their personal budgets to plan their support from other providers, including the voluntary sector. Many Ealing customers are already supported to use personal budgets and we have found that it has given them the flexibility and control to tailor their care and support to meet their own individual needs.”