Council has to rethink respite home closure plan

BAE Systems engineers

NEWS COMMENT: Losing these highly-skilled workers is a major concern

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If you were a carer, imagine how important a respite home would be. Somewhere familiar that you knew and trusted, where you could get help to relieve the pressures and demands of everyday life.

For Alistair Iverson and his wife, who are both carers for Alistair’s brother Graeme, Croft House in Fareham is a vital lifeline.

Graeme has Downs Syndrome and the family make regular use of Croft House.

But it and two other homes are now threatened with closure (plus two more could merge) as Hampshire County Council looks to save £1.7m a year.

This is yet another sorry story of the effect that swingeing cutbacks are having on our communities.

Of course we recognise that the country is in some economic difficulty and that measures have to be taken to cut spending in certain areas.

But there are too many examples of the most vulnerable in society, from children to the elderly, becoming the innocent victims of these cuts.

We are growing increasingly uneasy at the number of groups, services and organisations that are being affected and believe local authorities and central government ought to be re-examining where the axe may fall.

The plain truth is that some in society are better able than others to bear the burden.

As huge numbers of protesters take to the streets of London today to make their feelings known about the extent of the coalition’s cuts, we say that Croft House is exactly the sort of service that should be spared.

Alistair is quite right when he points out that family carers save the government hundreds of millions a year. Why shouldn’t they be entitled to a little help in return when they need it?

There may well be an army of carers out there who don’t even know they are in danger of losing their precious respite homes.

So we wish Alistair well as he lobbies local councillors and MPs and calls for a public meeting to address the closure plans. His cause is a just one and the council should think again.