New Shoots demonstrators protest against its closure in 2012
Published: 3 March, 2014
By TOM FOOT
CARERS of adults with severe learning difficulties are calling on the council to scrap plans to close a day centre.
The People’s Centre for Change has been running care sessions at the New Shoots centre in Shoot Up Hill, West Hampstead, for more than a year.
They have been told to raise funds to buy the day centre building from the council by autumn 2015, when they would have to run the service themselves, or it will be shut down.
A replacement service would open in the new-build Greenwood Place project in Kentish Town.
In a deputation to the Town Hall, People’s Centre for Change organisers Ines Ferreira and Nalan Bedding said: “The council will close the centre down in autumn 2015 and we aim to transform it into an inclusive community resource. In this year’s elections, we are looking to all the councillors to commit to supporting our vision which has the backing of so many individuals, families, groups and organisations.”
New Shoots was one of four day centres earmarked for closure in 2012 as part of a Camden Council plan to open a “super centre” in Greenwood Place, Kentish Town.
The original plan was to shut down Raglan Day Centre, in Kentish Town, Highgate Mental Health Centre, in Kentish Town, Netherwood Day Centre in West Hampstead and New Shoots. Funds from the sale of the buildings would be used to pay for a £17million centralised replacement centre.
The Greenwood Place plan was criticised because people with dementia, schizophrenia, depression, bipolar and adults with long-term learning difficulties would be going to the same place for day care.
There were questions about whether the new centralised service would feel like a “cut” for some of the seriously vulnerable people, who require round-the-clock care and who had become attached to their smaller, more personal places of respite.
Another group of people with severe learning disabilities, who have for decades used a wide range of facilities and services in the current Greenwood Day Centre – the site of the proposed development – are not being offered space in new set-up.
After a fierce campaign, the council agreed to keep Netherwood open and said New Shoots could have a three-year stay of execution until 2015. The sale of the Raglan and New Shoots day centres was expected to raise £2.25million for the Greenwood project.
In her deputation to the Town Hall’s Housing and Adult Social Care Committee, Ms Ferreira added: “We believe the plans for Greenwood would not offer sufficient capacity and diversity of services to meet future needs. We are asking for the council to consider not selling the building in Shoot Up Hill, arguing that they should be able to raise the estimated money from the sale of just Raglan. With rises in property values in the area it is likely that this target could be achieved without the sale of Shoot Up Hill.”
Cllr Patricia Callaghan, Camden’s cabinet member for adult social care and health, said: “The council recognises and is actively supporting the good work that is being undertaken by the People’s Centre for Change and we have committed not to close the building at Shoot Up Hill until the new community resource has been built, which is now anticipated to be March 2016.
“We are still at the design and tender stage for the project. As the actual costs for the building and the values of the properties becomes clearer I will discuss with officers whether an alternative option is available to us to enables the People’s Centre for Change to carry on their good work.”
l For more information visit http://peoplescentreforchange.org.uk