Accord Carers Vow to Fight on After ‘Promise’ of New Facility in 2014
The Accord Centre in Dalmarnock is set to be demolished as carers continue their fight.
Carers at an East End day centre earmarked for demolition have said that the First Minister’s pledge of a new facility in 2014 is not enough.
The Accord Centre in Dalmarnock, which provides day care for people with a range of learning disabilities, is due to be bulldozed to make way for a car park for the Commonwealth Games in 2014.
Last week, in a letter sent to the East Carers Group, who use the Accord Centre, the First Minister said he will “ensure” the creation of a space for the people of the Accord Centre in the Tollcross Aquatic Centre after the conclusion of Glasgow 2014.
But although carers and families have welcomed the news, many are worried about care provision for the 50 or so centre users before 2014.
The Accord Centre is to shut within weeks and users will be moved to a room in the nearby Bambury Centre, which is viewed by carers as a downgrade in service provision and not adequate.
Helen McCourt, whose daughter attends the Accord Centre, said “The news is welcome, but there is a very big BUT. The Commonwealth Games is not till 2014, why do we have to wait until then and also, with the new Self Direct Support packages brought out across Glasgow, the service-users might not be able to afford to go to the Aquatic Centre when it is open?
“There is no need to move Accord service-users before the Games, which are not until 2014, how long does it take to pull a building down and put a car park in? Not two years.”
Mary McArthur, whose daughter also attends the Accord, is also worried.
She said: “They want us all to move to the Bambury in the meantime, but this community centre is not adequate. Council keep going on about Self Directed Support but is it really offering us a choice?
“Me and my daughter are not getting any younger and I’ll keep campaigning to stop them cutting my lassie’s services.”
The Scottish Government is currently preparing a Self-Directed Support Bill which will place a duty on local authorities to offer people with disabilities the option of cash to arrange their own private care, or to have it allocated to a provider of their choice, as an alternative to council-run care.
Ian Hood, Coordinator of the Learning Disability Alliance Scotland said: “It is good news that there will be a feasibility study into a new purpose built day centre to replace the Accord Centre at the Tollcross Aquatic Centre.
“However, any possible replacement is still years away from completion and individuals with learning disabilities and their families have difficult decisions to make about their futures in the meantime.
“Many retain concerns that the temporary replacement centre is unfit for purpose and wonder if they should take an Individual Budget to organise their own care package.
“But there are worries that if they do so they will never be able to afford to attend any new centre because individual budgets are much lower than the actual cost of their current services.
“The City Council should ensure that Self Directed Support is not an exit route from local authority services but that budgets are sufficient to allow people a real choice of quality services, whether they are provided by the local authority or the voluntary sector.”
In his letter to the East Carers Group, Mr Salmond said: “There is a real opportunity in the medium and long term to influence the shape of the new Aquatic Centre when it is adapted for community use following the Commonwealth Games in 2014.
“This brand new modern resource could be adapted to offer a similar facility to that which you saw when you visited the Harry Smith complex.”
He added: “I have therefore asked my officials, working in conjunction with Glasgow City Council, to prepare a funding package to ensure a modern facility along the lines I have described above is created within the Tollcross Aquatic Centre after the Games in 2014 have taken place.”
It is expected that Glasgow City Council will receive £150,000 to carry out a feasibility study of the Aquatic Centre.
But council officials say that this will not be enough to cover the costs of adapting the centre for use.
Councillor Matt Kerr, executive member for Social Care, said: “The council is spending £18m on getting Tollcross ready for the Commonwealth Games and this £150,000 from the Scottish Government will be used to look at the further adaptation of the centre after 2014.
“The plans for Tollcross do not allow for any changes before the Games, but we’ve always said we’d be happy to look at it afterwards.
“The carers agreed with the council and the Scottish Government some time ago that a community facility was an acceptable alternative to the Accord, so I’m delighted that the ministers have now put money on the table to look at options to help achieve that.
“In the meantime, the Bambury is due to open in the next few weeks and it offers a real opportunity to deliver a service that will encourage greater social inclusion for service users.
“Since reforming our learning disability services, people are showing they relish having greater flexibility to follow their own interests and aspirations.
“Using the Bambury Centre allows us to strike a balance between people taking greater control over their lives and retaining a centre.
“We do acknowledge there are some service users and carers who remain unhappy with what is being offered at the Bambury centre.
“But we hope that once they see what’s possible with the centre, they will come on-board.”
A council spokesman added: “We haven’t done any detailed costings, but we wouldn’t expect £150,000 to pay for all the things the First Minister describes in his letter.
“We have still to hear from the Scottish Government on when the £150,000 will be made available to the council.”