It’s not all fun and Games for Vulnerable: Aamer Anwar on Save the Accord
AFTER last week’s column on the Olympics, I was contacted by families affected by the Commonwealth Games to be hosted in Glasgow in two years’ time.
Their plea involved the Accord day care centre, set up 20 years ago in the east end of Glasgow. There, 120 adults with learning disabilities built a community where people with needs as diverse as cerebral palsy and Down’s syndrome — as well as their families — could meet daily in a safe environment.
Their activities included learning, hydrotherapy, art, computing, making friendships and much more.
Yet the Accord was shut this year to be demolished for a ‘coach park’ for the Games that will last only 11 days.
The Labour-controlled city council had no difficulty in financing £20million to purchase land for the Games, but wouldn’t replace the centre.
Families claim all they have got from the council is lies and broken promises.
The Games start in 2014, the centre is shut and the replacement is one rented room in Bambury Community Centre with space only for 60.
It is available for users to meet with carers, to then travel by bus elsewhere, but if the activity is cancelled they are left out in the cold, wind and rain — unlike at the Accord.
This is not a day care centre but a shabby afterthought of a ‘watertight bus stop’ for vulnerable adults.
Twenty of those with more serious disabilities were dispersed to Riddrie Day Care centre, but there is no space for the rest.
First Minister Alex Salmond recently gave the families hope and said the needs of those at the Accord must be met, but the council appears unwilling to listen and told the families to wait until after the Games.
Maybe the Scottish Government should bypass the council and give the families what they need now.
Grace, whose 26-year-old son Craig used the Accord five days a week, said: “You cannot put a price on your child’s happiness.
“Our kids are special people who need specialist care. They’re never going to get that in a room in a rundown community centre with next to no facilities.
“Many are unable to see their friends each day or to give their families a break from 24/7 care.
“Many do not have access to the specialist facilities and some could not attend the alternatives due to a lack of space.
“This has affected their behaviour and health. With the millions of pounds spent on these Games, the least that this council can do is give us a centre with the facilities we deserve.”
These families are not asking for much — just respect to live their lives as independently as possible in their communities.
If you believe in their struggle join ‘Save the Accord’ on Facebook, email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact the council.