St Albans parents of adults with disabilities gather support against closure of respite services
PUBLISHED: 13:07 16 January 2020 | UPDATED: 13:07 16 January 2020
Parents campaigning against the closure of respite services in St Albans have created a Facebook group as a support network for carers.
Herts County Council is undergoing a consultation process on whether to close 'short breaks' services for adults with disabilities, including Hixberry Lane in St Albans, Apton Road in Bishops Stortford and Tewin Road in Hemel Hempstead.
St Albans mum Jackie Wilks, whose 26-year-old daughter Nicole has learning disabilities, launched a petition calling on the council to revaluate the way they liaise with parents and seek their views.
Jackie, her husband Andrew, and fellow mum Sharon Shepheard - who also has a 26-year-old daughter with learning disabilities - formed a Facebook group for other families of people who rely on respite services.
The group, called 'Hertfordshire Respite User Group', aims to collect the views of other parents and carers and garner support for the petition.
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Posting in the group, Jackie said: "We disagree with the process and logic of the current proposals, and want to hear your views and stories and gain your input.
"A collective voice is surely stronger."
The petition has currently reached nearly 450 signatures, enough to address the council's adult social care panel, but needs to reach 1,000 to be considered by the full council.
An initial consultation closed on November 7, which called for the closure of Isabel Court in Hoddesdon instead of Apton Road. A second consultation is due to open on January 21, which proposes saving money by closing services which are not being used, with a wider aim to develop more personalised and flexible options for respite over the next three years.
However the parents believe that the current under-usage of services does not reflect true demand, as many parents are unaware the services are available, and that adult care services should fully develop the new strategy before closing respite facilities.
The council estimated that closing the three centres would save £900,000 per year.
To sign the petition, go to https://democracy.hertfordshire.gov.uk and click on 'petitions'. To join the Facebook group, search 'Hertfordshire Respite User Group'.