‘Facing a life of solitude’

Studio picture of Sidney Simpson and his son Martin Simpson. 021C
Studio picture of Sidney Simpson and his son Martin Simpson. 021C
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COUNTY council plans to close a Grantham day centre will hit “the most vulnerable people in society” warn parents.

St John’s Day Centre in Grantham, which offers a place throughout the week for people with learning disabilities and often Down’s Syndrome to spend their day, is under threat after Lincolnshire County Council announced plans to scrap 30 such day services across the county.

Grantham Leisure support group at the Bowling alley, Dysart Road, Grantham. 031C

Grantham Leisure support group at the Bowling alley, Dysart Road, Grantham. 031C

Sidney Simpson, of Dysart Road, Grantham, believes the loss of the centre will have a terrible impact on people like his son Martin, who has Down’s Syndrome.

Mr Simpson said: “What we are all concerned about is how vulnerable these people are.

“They are used to a lifestyle of day centres and being looked after on a daily basis but suddenly that seems to be coming to an end.

“There are more than 60 adults with learning difficulties attending the day centre, and the parents are very concerned about what happens after the closure.

“My son has been attending a day centre for 35 years and doesn’t know any different. They could be facing a life of solitude if there are no outlets anywhere.

“For us, they are taking the money from the vulnerable, the people that really need it.”

Day centres like St John’s in Commercial Road offer people like Martin the chance to spend time with others in a similar situation - an environment they flourish in.

Pat Beal of Hougham has a daughter with Down’s Syndrome who also regularly attends St John’s.

She said: “All these kids want is each other’s company. When you see them all together they are the happiest bunch you could ever hope to meet.

“They just want to be together and enjoy each other.”

Parents fear those who attend St John’s will become housebound when the centre closes or be left to roam the streets.

Pat’s husband Ray Beal said: “Their child faces being home all day long just vegitating. It’s not what we want because they do flower around each other.

“They have withdrawn everything that these kids need, everything. And these are the most vulnerable kids in society.”

The proposals have come about as the council aims to cut costs through introducing personalised budgets tailored to individual needs.

The proposal is currently under consultation, with the consultation period due to close on Monday.

Tony McArdle, Chief Executive of Lincolnshire County Council, said: “We offer the assurance that all views will be thoroughly considered and nothing will be done until we are clear that alternatives are in place.

“Whilst we currently have no firm proposals, it would be dishonest not to accept that the nature of change may be considerable and have a change on a number of staff’s employment status.”