Learning Disability Today
Supporting professionals working in learning disability and autism services

Mencap fights to keep Wirral-based day centre open

Mencap logoLearning disability charity Mencap is helping people with learning disabilities fight to keep Moreton Day Centre open, saying that Wirral Borough Council has not adequately consulted those who use the service.

Moreton Day Centre provides care and support for 133 people with a learning disability in Wirral, but the council has put forward plans to close it.

In response, Mencap, working with the Wirral branch of the charity, has submitted a report on this to the council. The charity met with people who attend the day centre, their parents and carers. It was felt that the council’s initial consultation on the planned closure had not done enough to consult with people with a learning disability who use the service. There had not been an adequate easy-read document made available and people who use the service were confused about what was happening.

Mencap created an easy-read document to understand how people with a learning disability really felt about the centre and its proposed closure, and then presented their findings in a report. A survey for this found that 100% of people with a learning disability enjoyed attending Moreton Day Centre and 100% of people were happy with the staff there.

Chloe Harvey from Wirral Mencap said Moreton Day Centre should be celebrated for the range of opportunities it provides for people with a learning disability. “The staff provide exemplary support and the people who attend the centre cherish the service,” she said.

“Fifty of its members have gained voluntary work placements through Moreton Day Centre, which is hugely significant as only 7% of people with a learning disability in the UK are in work. These placements enable people with a learning disability to be valued members of society, and without the day centre, they could lose their placements and end up being stuck at home, isolated from their community.”

Negative impact

Stephen John, regional campaigns officer for Mencap, who wrote and submitted the report for the consultation, added: “When the Council announced that the centre could be closed, Mencap was inundated by parents who were concerned about what would happen to their loved ones.

“We don’t feel that Wirral Borough Council have fully grasped the negative impact that the lack of clear consultation has already had on the lives of those who attend the centre, let alone the catastrophic impact on these individuals and their families should the centre close.”

Stephen McGreal, a campaigner whose daughter would be affected by the closure of Moreton Day Centre, spoke on behalf of the families, he said: “Mencap actually asked us what we think, how we would be impacted by a closure, and what we want to happen.

“There has been talk of attending an alternative day centre, but nothing specific has been confirmed. I’m not sure that the Council fully appreciates what a huge upheaval this would cause our relatives – losing long term friendships, going to a different setting and being looked after by staff who don’t know what you need can be extremely distressing.

“Mencap has produced the consultation impact document on behalf of people who attend the centre and us – their parents and carers – which highlighted our feelings and anxieties. These are very real concerns and we hope that the Council takes them seriously.”

The consultation closes on June 5, with a decision on the future of Moreton Day Centre expected at a Town Hall Cabinet meeting on June 13.

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