The story this week that adults with learning disabilities and their families have been left devastated after learning two day centres in Southwark could close is part of a wider picture across the country of a system that is simply not working.
It is extremely difficult given the near collapse across the country of adult social care to just place the blame at the door of the town hall. Social care faces a funding gap of at least £2.6 billion by 2020 and it cannot be left to council taxpayers alone to try to fix this crisis. The government has to step in. But what Southwark do appear to be guilty of is being vague on what is happening specifically at Riverside Day Centre, in Cherry Garden Street, Bermondsey, and Queen’s Road Day Centre, in Peckham.
Both centres, run by the Camden Society, a registered charity, have leased the buildings rent-free from the council, but that lease has run out and one building was deemed ‘not fit for purpose’. Why is it not fit for purpose? We have not been told.
And if the community was to step in and make it fit for purpose, would the council still be able to give the Camden Society the place rent-free or even at a much reduced rate?
There are now just months left to save or find alternative homes for each centre. There is not a person in the town hall or on the streets of the borough who would deny that both centres are desperately needed, so let’s work together to help find a solution to protect and take care of our most vulnerable neighbours. Armed with all the facts, of course.