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March 17, 2010

Old habits die hard

We all know the economic crisis has fundamentally changed things for everyone.   Nonetheless, it is ironic that at a time when a cash-strapped  public sector desperately needs to find new ways of tapping into the potential resource that lies within communities, the depressingly predictable first instinct has been to impose swingeing funding cuts across our sector – disproportionately  greater than anywhere else.

Erik Geddes , Local News Glasgow

Plug pulled on funding for Castlemilk Stress centre.

The harsh realities of council cutbacks are hitting one of Glasgow’s poorest areas particularly hard.

Glasgow South East Community Health Care Partnership (CHCP) – which is part-funded by the council – is set to pull the plug on funding for Castlemilk Stress Centre.

The centre, based in Stravanan Road for the past four years, relied on £80,000 core funding from the CHCP along with a further £40,000 from community planning.

The 14 staff and volunteers offer complimentary therapies such as aromatherapy massage and reflexology to more than 100 people a week for free or at vastly reduced prices.

Karen Guthrie, assistant manager of the centre, told of the impact that the proposed closure at the end of March will have.

She said: ‘The people who come here will be devastated if this service is withdrawn.

‘A lot of the clients are very vulnerable; many are long-term unemployed and many more are suffering from other conditions including mental health issues.

‘Our staff has taken this very hard as they are now facing unemployment and threat of not meeting mortgage payments and rent.

‘We understand that there has to be cuts in frontline services but we’re doing everything we can for people to contact their MPs and councillors to reverse this decision.

‘There is petition circulating and we’re doing all we can. We’re not giving up; it would seem that the money is simply not there, we need a miracle.’

In addition, there is a dedicated youth centre that visits all the schools and nurseries dealing with anger management, emotional intelligence and works very closely with young people through periods of transition.

While the youth stress centre is funded via The Big Lottery until the end of 2011, it will now be without a permanent home when the Stress Centre closes.

Karen said: ‘The knock-on effect will be that it will be likely to close unless new accommodation is made available to them.’

Amanda Brown, local resident and board member of Castlemilk Youth Complex, has both worked alongside and used the services of the stress centre.

She suffered whiplash after being in a car crash in 2005 and was able to access the youth stress centre, which was offering free therapy sessions.

She cited the same reasons of deprivation and care needs as Karen Guthrie as those which made the centre so important to the area.

She added: ‘It may even cost the CHCP more in the long term as people’s health needs will increase and their ability to work will reduce if they pull this service.’

Amanda continued: ‘It’s been great to have the stress centre; it helps build a sense of community.

‘One time I was there I forgot my purse but the staff were great with me, dropping in the cash later in the week.

‘I can’t believe that they have just pulled it.’

MP for Glasgow South, Tom Harris, has written to CHCP and Baillie James Scanlon expressing concern over the closure.