DISABLED day centre users will be protesting today (Thursday) in a final bid to save their ‘second home’ from closing.
Harrow Council’s cabinet is due to decide this evening whether to close three centres used for people with either learning disabilities or physical disabilities in order to make them more efficient and cost effective to run.
If approved, Bentley Neighbourhood Resource Centre in Uxbridge Road, Harrow, Gordon Avenue Day Centre in Gordon Avenue, Stanmore, and Bedford House Resource Centre in Bedford Close, Pinner, would close.
William Gregory, 50, from Harrow, has epilepsy and has suffered four strokes and a brain haemorrhage. He has been using Bentley day centre for more than 10 years.
He said: “We are all friends there, I go to the centre five days a week – it keeps me going. I do not want to see it close, it is like my second home.”
Bentley day centre has about 97 users and has been open since 1981.
Maureen McGrath, 60, from Harrow, has been using the centre for more than 20 years and is a member of Bentley Committee, which helps with communication between staff and service users.
She said: “If Bentley were to close, it would kill the heart of the community. We would feel isolated and it could cause problems with mental health.”
Chief executive of Harrow Association of Disabled people, Angela Dias, said: “At HAD we are concerned about the impact that day centre closures could have on the lives of people who are being hit by cuts and service reductions.”
The council says the changes are needed for a number of reasons, including making the service more efficient. Research has shown the number of people using the centres is significantly below capacity.
A total of 650 service users, their families and staff, were consulted about the changes earlier this year and the council says it has used the feedback to plan future service provision.
Harrow Council’s corporate director for community health and wellbeing, Paul Najsarek, said: “Supporting the borough’s most vulnerable residents is at the heart of our work at Harrow Council. Ensuring that we are able to continue to provide high quality services despite reducing budgets is an important priority.
“Change is always difficult and we understand that some service users will be concerned. However, every service user will continue to receive the same high level of care and support, and we will be working hard to ensure friendships are maintained and that people continue to benefit from the supportive staffing relationships they have formed over a number of years.”