Nov 23 2012 By Poppy Bradbury
Ronnie Fagan with his mother Vivienne. Ronnie is autistic and uses the Learning Curve Day Centre in Acton.
TWO day centres that provide training, work experience and daily support for people with learning disabilities are threatened with closure.
Learning Curve in Roslin Road and the nearby Stirling Road Centre will be shut in May if council plans go ahead.
Clients and their families say they fear for the future as Ealing Council looks for what is says are ‘better ways of providing day services’ by considering giving learning disabled people their own ‘budgets to choose services that better suit their needs’ .
Learning Curve teaches essential skills, from maths to cooking, five days a week and provides paid work experience. Stirling Road centre provides activities, training and a meeting place for those with more severe learning disabilities. Both have been open for more than 30 years.
Carmel Elliot has worked with disabled people for more than 45 years and knows those who attend the Stirling Road Centre well. She said: “They need that service, and so do their carers. A lot of carers are elderly and under an enormous strain. Many people attended the Albert Danes Centre for five days a week before they closed it last year.
“Now they get four hours twice a week at Hanwell Community Centre. Services for disabled people have been cut and cut and cut. It’s awful. Ealing Council has picked on disabled people because they’re an easy target.”
Vivienne Fagan has a son Roland, 35, who is autistic and works at Learning Curve. Ms Fagan, 64, said: “It gives him a reason to get up in the morning and is somewhere safe for him to be.
“Because he’s autistic he has trouble relating to people and can become a target. If the centre closes I don’t know where he’s going to go.”
Thomas Foran, 30, has mild learning disabilities and attends Learning Curve’s training centre five days a week.He said: “Without the centre I’d probably be at home doing nothing.About 30 people use it a day. We’re like a family and people need the routine.”
A council spokeswoman said no final decision had been made. She added: “To help meet the council’s £85m savings targets, and as part of government’s personalisation programme, the centres users are being consulted on better ways of providing day services. This could mean that eligible customers are provided with individual budgets and given support to help them choose the services that better suit their needs and interests.”