Decision-makers are wrong to cut community services

YOUR article Enough is Enough (Journal, February 13) was spot on. It is a sign of a sick society when it seeks to penalise those who are most vulnerable within it.

Those who cut the funding to the Douglas Arter Centre should think again and realise that they are penalising very vulnerable people.

The economies concerned could have easily been found elsewhere. Maybe there should have been a cut in bosses’ salaries to pay for any deficit.

It is time those responsible, whether they are in government, local government, companies or organisations, faced up to the fact that they are being very cruel to those who unfortunately were born with profound and multiple learning disabilities and who cannot help themselves.

It is the same with Hillcote. By closing it those responsible are penalising the most vulnerable in society. Canons House in Devizes is not an adequate substitute as it is 25 miles away from Salisbury and is already 85 per cent full.

An alternative respite care building should be found in Salisbury at a lower rent.

Enough is enough – let us do the right thing for these vulnerable people.

Mike Claydon, Salisbury

OUR 16-year-old son, who has a learning disability, has been attending the Bridging Project on Wilton Road for four years now.

In that time he has forged true friendships with both disabled and non-disabled teenagers in a very safe and caring environment, overseen by dedicated and experienced staff.

This is the only time that my son can truly socialise with his nondisabled peers, and it gives him a huge amount of independence and confidence.

To deprive all these wonderful people of such an important facility is utterly wrong. The people making these decisions are at best ignorant and short sighted, and at worst callous.

Tim and Jo Adams, Middle Woodford

THE youth workers at the Bridging Project are passionate about what they do for our young people with special needs. They are also very inspirational when you see first hand the results they achieve in helping our young people develop the social skills and confidence they need to enable them to integrate and communicate with a wide range of people in everyday life.

I write primarily on behalf of the Salisbury Bridging Project in Wilton Road but also in support of all of these projects across the county under similar threat of closure as they are all just as important to the communities of Wiltshire.

The Salisbury Bridging Project integrates young people with special needs with similarly aged people without special needs.

The youngsters flourish when they know that these young volunteers are interested enough to give up their own time to support them.

The youth workers have worked hard as a team to turn the rooms in these community centres into a place of positivity and hope.

When your child is born and you are told they have mental or physical problems, the bottom of your world falls away. You then have to pick yourself up and not only care for these children but also fight for every bit of help and support for them and yourself. To find a centre with staff and volunteers so passionate about helping your child or young adult is such a relief and much appreciated.

If Wiltshire Council does close it, once again the bottom will fall out of our world as you feel that the council does not feel that these young people are worthy of such facilities.

How many more assets will be lost? Surely once brick and mortar and staff are changed into cash, that money will be used and gone like water?

What will be sold next year and the year after? Eventually it will all become unworkable.

Surely alternatives must be looked into. Maybe the council could look to the business community for sponsorship of the centre? Closure of any centre that works towards supporting any young people with special needs can only be a negative blow and could be in no way considered a way forward for our communities.

To the leaders of the council – please come and see first hand what the centres do before you cast them adrift as a cost saving.

Mark Annetts, Salisbury

I WISH to lend my support to your campaign to fight cuts in vital services for vulnerable people.

These types of services should be our top priority. How we look after the most vulnerable people is how our society is judged. The sums involved are quite modest and surely we should be prepared to pay them? Local authorities have had massive cuts from central government and there is worse to come.

Government policy is to severely diminish the role of local government and instead create more quangos and privatised bodies.

The cuts are disproportionately targeted towards the poorest and the most disadvantaged. Those in power must show more compassion towards the plight of these people. At the same time we have some Cabinet members of Wiltshire Council taking large increases in allowances.

I am calling on our member of parliament John Glen, who I know is a Christian, to show some compassion and leadership on this issue. Can he tell us what his views are?

The Church of England and the Catholic Church have both made public pronouncements on their opposition to these kinds of cuts.

Cllr Michael Pope, Salisbury Green Party

THE announcement of the recent closures facing facilities serving individuals who are learning disabled and their staff beggars belief.

What was the point of the Valuing People White Paper?

What a waste of money that was! The very people who at long last gave every individual with a learning disability the right to choice, dignity, and respect, are the very people who are now taking these basic human rights away from them.

I read some of the individuals can not communicate verbally. This might be true, however we all communicate, and it concerns me what impact these horrendous changes will have on each person and how this will be conveyed.

As a country, we give to every lost cause going. Let’s put the ‘great’ back into Britain and start by looking out for our own. Let "charity begin at home" and allow vulnerable people, their families and their carers to have peace in the knowledge they will not be losing their home and their basic human rights will no longer be compromised.

Cathie Birrell, Salisbury

YOU may have seen recently in the news about the drastic reduction that Wiltshire Council is about to make to the county’s youth service provision. From what I understand the reductions are to be made in “umbrella” services, and the preferred option for going forward is community-led provision similar to the recent library reorganisation. I think we all have to consider the effect this will have on young people.

Youth workers are qualified, dedicated people who are trained to deal with the complex problems that young people can have.

Young people approach youth workers knowing they will be dealt with in a compassionate manner with complete confidentiality.

Will they have the same faith in a volunteer who may be a neighbour or friend of the family?

We are unable to measure how many of our young people have been prevented from becoming known to the police, having drink or drug problems or having to be helped with difficult times at home or school.

I understand that cuts are an economic measure.

Surely the cost of keeping the service going at this stage is less than the cost of re-establishing it in a few years time when young people are causing problems on the streets?

Our young people are worth the investment and money it would cost to keep the youth service as it is.

Councillors, you have weighty responsibilities, this is acknowledged.

However, please reconsider.

Investment in our young people and the highly skilled staff of the youth service is vital for the future.

Rachel Hyde, Mere

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