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September 15, 2010

Council is told – we’ll run it

The last of Glasgow’s specialist day care centres for disabled people has been earmarked for closure.  But users of this vital resource, a life-line for so many people, are fighting back and have submitted plans to run the centre themselves as a pioneering cooperative. The Action Group, with the support of their local MSP, have handed a petition to the Council with 1500 signatures calling on the Council to think again

Disabled activists have launched a battle to turn an under-threat care centre into a pioneering co-operative. The Fernan Street Centre in Shettleston in Glasgow’s East End is the last building of its kind in the city and is expected to be closed within weeks. Now the people who use it have called upon the council to let them run it.

Campaigners from the Fernan Street Action Group have handed in a petition to Glasgow City Chambers with the signatures of 1500 people. As all the other specialists centres in the city have been closed, the disabled people who rely on Fernan Street fear they will be sent to places which cannot properly cater for them.

Frank McAveety, MSP for Shettleston, was at the City Chambers to support their demands. He said: “Politicians throw around phrases like Big Society. Well, here’s reality. Services are getting cut and people from the East End won’t take this lying down.  If the council isn’t able to run this centre, let’s let the local people who use it take control.”

Fernan Street is the only centre in Glasgow that offers day care for disabled people. It used to be one of four, but all the others are closed. The council now wants to use local community centres to provide day care for the disabled.

John Thompson, 61, lives in Baillieston and cares for his wife Carol, 50, who suffers from MS. He said: “My wife is the most high dependency person in Fernan Street and has been treated with disdain.  My wife is to be taken to a nearby church hall which doesn’t even have appropriate toilet facilities for her. The situation is a shambles.”

Ann Cassels, 50, from Sandyhills, also suffers from MS.  She said: “I go to Fernan Street to meet people and not just sit in, staring at the four walls.  “It now looks as if I might get sent to places without the same number of trained staff … perhaps even without a first aider.  Who is going to help if someone falls or is taken ill? There will be no-one to assist except other disabled people?”

A spokesman for the council said: “We’ve had a constructive meeting about the future use of the Fernan St building.  A range of views were expressed and we agreed we will provide the group with all the information they require to help them find a way forward.”

Seven volunteers have already stepped forward to help run the services free of charge.