A COUNCIL has been urged to reopen a day centre for vulnerable adults now a review it ordered found a support service should have use of a building.
A campaigner and a mother have both called for Monmouthshire County Council to bring the Tudor Street Day Centre in Abergavenny back into use following the review of the My Day, My Life service which provides individual support to adults with learning disabilities and is intended to help them take part in activities matching their interests.
Karen Webb, whose 23-year-old son Alex Davies, is supported by the service has welcomed the report, produced by independent consultants Practice Solutions, which highlighted shortcomings in the support service since the pandemic and the need for it to have use of “safe and accessible buildings.”
She said the Tudor Centre, which hasn’t reopened since the start of the Covid lockdown in March 2020, is the only building meeting the needs of the service users.
That view is also shared by Owen B Lewis who started the campaign to save the centre after its permanent closure was announced by the council in November last year, with the intention of selling the site for affordable housing.
Though the review had only been commissioned in September the council’s social care department said it was “working on the assumption that Tudor Street is no longer fit for purpose”, and that a day centre service was outdated.
The council’s Labour cabinet agreed to the permanent closure ahead of the review reporting as it wanted to beat new flood risk rules, due to come into force this June, which could limit the site’s redevelopment potential.
However following the campaign council leader Mary Ann Brocklesby issued an apology in January for announcing the centre’s closure without consultation and confirmed no decision would be taken on its future until after the review had been completed.
Though the review has recommended the service should have use of a building it hasn’t made any direct reference to basing the service at Tudor Street but has acknowledged the need for any building to be “accessible” and “appropriate” for those with physical needs. It said families wanted “a specific building for the service but participants should also go out and enjoy community life.”
Mr Lewis, a former support worker at the Tudor Centre, said he felt if the council is to take on board the recommendation, and that it listens to families, the only realistic response is to once again use the centre as a base.
He said: “It’s clear that Tudor Street is the only building that can provide what they are asking for. It already has a sensory room, appropriate toilet facilities and changing areas, a balance of communal areas and quiet spaces, a place that makes people feel they belong and safe, that they can call their own etc.
“It just goes to show that the Tudor Street building should have continued as a service for vulnerable adults as soon as it was safe to after lockdown.”
Mr Lewis said he was however concerned that the report authors appeared to assume other buildings, which include Abergavenny’s Melville Theatre and council hubs in Monmouth, had filled the same function as the specialist Tudor Centre and that others who’d previously used it, including for drop in sessions, hadn’t been part of the review.
Ms Webb, who lives in Abergavenny, said: “It’s a good outcome to the review but it doesn’t mean to say they are going to keep Tudor Street open, though I don’t think there’s any other building in Abergavenny that’s suitable. It has got all the essential facilities needed such as toilets, changing tables, an outdoor garden and kitchen it’s got everything there including a sensory room and computer room.”
The report found that family members wanted a mixture of one to one support to help people be as independent as possible but that group activities and friendships, formed through the day centre, were also important.
But some had also felt “abandoned” since the pandemic and that activities since have been “less meaningful” while hours of support had also reduced since one to one replaced the day centre.
Ms Webb said friendships formed through Tudor Street, which Alex would attend during college holidays before the pandemic, were important to him and said she also welcomed the report’s recommendation of a full-time activities coordinator.
She said she she hoped that would mean more planning for what activities people could take part in having previously said some days support workers have had to resort to pushing her son, in his wheelchair, around shops to fill time and without a base have had to change him in supermarket toilets.
Monmouthshire council is currently asking anyone with an interest to complete an online questionnaire by April 28 as it considers the report’s recommendations and develops a plan for the My Day, My Life service.
Categories: Social services
Locations: Abergavenny Monmouthshire