The families of service users who face losing two day centres have taken their cause to Southwark Council, in an impassioned speech at a meeting last week.
Service users and their families and carers learnt that the Camden Society’s Riverside day centre, in Bermondsey, and Queen’s Road day centre, in Peckham, could close last month.
Both buildings were let rent-free by the council for many years to charity the Camden Society, which runs the centres, but the leases have now ended.
It is a very real concern and possibility that these individuals may regress making it very difficult for them to integrate and be part of the community
A total of 160 adults with learning disabilities use the centres, which provide activities and social interaction for some users who would otherwise sit at home alone each day.
Gemma Cooper and Sinem Quashie, co-chairs of the Camden Society Parent and Carers Association, highlighted what the centres mean to service users and their families during the speech at a full council meeting last week.
“It is important that we talk about this real issue and that the committee members understand fully what these buildings provide to the most disadvantaged members of society, people who face complex and multiple barriers every day,” the deputation speech, written by Sinem and read by Gemma, said.
“For them the Camden Society provides much more than just a day centre: the Camden Society forms a vital role to all the service users enabling their well-being by providing equality, stability and focus, for a group of people who would otherwise not be able to develop with active meaning if it were not for the dedicated team of staff based at both these sites.
“There are huge efforts put in place by the Camden Society to deliver a support package appropriate to the individual service user’s ability and to achieve this a dedicated support system is crucial.”
“It is a very real concern and possibility that these individuals may regress making it very difficult for them to integrate and be part of the community,” the speech added.
Gemma and Sinem also pointed out that the families and carers of service users would suffer if the day centres closed, as they allow them to go to work and give them respite.
The News reported this month how the council had met with the Camden Society to talk about setting up a ‘community hub’ for people with disabilities.
The lease on the Queen’s Road centre ended on January 31 and the council has deemed the building not fit for purpose.
The council has allowed the charity to continue to operate rent-free until June to allow for the assessments of its 48 users.
The lease on the Riverside centre will end in June and the Camden Society will have until November to leave.
A petition has also been set up by Sinem in a bid to save the two centres. To add your signature, visit www.change.org/p/houses-of-parliment-no-camden-society-riverside-queens-road-closure