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Mental health charities' work made 'difficult' by Marlborough Hill Day Centre closure in Harrow
Charities supporting people with mental health issues at a Harrow day centre have criticised the council’s decision to close it.
Marlborough Hill Day Centre, which provides a weekday drop-in service offering meals, workshops and group activities, will close with services moved to a new ‘hub’ at the Bridge Day Centre in Christchurch Avenue.
Harrow Council made the decision, which will save £252,000 a year, two weeks ago as part of a major reorganisation of services, but voluntary groups which use the centre have criticised the closure.
Aspergers Syndrome Access to Provision in Harrow uses the centre three days a week to run courses for people with severe autism to encourage independence and relieve their carers.
The charity’s chairman Elizabeth Hugo has asked the council if they can continue to use the building despite the closure of day services, but councillors have refused to confirm whether they can.
She said: “It’s an ideal venue for what we do – the alternative for us is to use a church hall, which is just a big room with some chairs and would not allow us to be able to do a lot of the activities we offer.
“We haven’t got anywhere in mind to move to. It’s made it very difficult for us.”
Councillors have been working with service users, carers and the voluntary sector for nearly two years to come up with the new model, with the Bridge Day Centre becoming the main centre and focussing on trying to get people into work, as well as providing activities and a café.
Services will also be retained at the Wiseworks centre, which offers activities including computing, photography, woodwork and horticulture.
Raksha Pandya, user involvement coordinator at Mind in Harrow, said “the introduction of personal budgets by the Government have made changes in Harrow inevitable”.
She added: “Mind in Harrow’s campaign group, which comprises of mental health service users, has been ensuring that as many groups of vulnerable adults suffering from mental health problems are included in the fullest possible way.
“This is to reduce the impact of the changes for people with mental health and to ensure the council makes the most effective changes, and are held accountable to make mental health day services better – which they have committed to at the cabinet meeting.”
Councillor Margaret Davine, portfolio holder for adult social care, insisted the move was made to improve services despite Government cuts to Harrow’s budget.
She said: “This review has been a long time coming, but we believe this will best meet the needs of people with mental health issues within the resources available.
“Everyone who currently receives a service will continue to do so – nobody will have their services cut.”