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Hillcote campaigners to hold protest
CAMPAIGNERS fighting to save the only respite home for children with severe disabilities in Salisbury are holding a protest in the city centre at the weekend.
Wiltshire Council plans to close Hillcote in Manor Road in April next year meaning children will either have to go to Devizes for respite care or to specialised foster carers.
The Hillcote Closure Campaign has launched a petition and will be at the cheese market outside the library from 11am on Saturday.
Chairman Angela Scott said: “Hillcote is a jewel in our midst and past and present parents of learning disabled children know this. However we do need the full support of Salisbury people to be successful in our campaign. This respite care is not only for present children but sadly also for those born and living locally in the months and years ahead.”
Mrs Scott said the campaign particularly needs parents of children who go to Exeter House School to fill in a questionnaire the group has devised and issued about the need for respite care in the city.
Alix Ricketts, who worked at Hillcote for a number of years, said: “I can say from personal experience that a journey to Devizes to the proposed respite home for the children would not be satisfactory for the children from Salisbury.
“It is too long for physically disabled children to be confined in their wheelchairs and for severely autistic children, especially older ones; it could be dangerous keeping them still. “On top of that, how confusing would it be for them to be confronted with a new place, new faces etc?”
Tanya Dunn’s 16-year-old son Liam is 16 has severe autism and has been going to Hillcote since he was seven years old.
“It’s a really good place,” said Mrs Dunn. “The staff are great and Liam doesn’t like change. He’s like a giant toddler and it takes him a long time to get used to new things.
“We need to keep Hillcote open, not just for our children but for children in the future, because there is nothing else like it in this area.”
Wiltshire Council and Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group said people are being asked for their views ahead of the proposed closure and there will be no cuts to funding.
A spokesman said: “We understand the potential closure of Hillcote will be a concern to families using the service, and we will meet with them to ensure the needs of their children and families continue to be met.”
The consultation documents are available at wiltshireparentcouncil.co.uk.
The petition is at change.org/en-GB/petitions/wiltshire-council-stop-the-closure-of-hillcote?.
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