Grave concern over potential cuts to disabled services in county

Joy Yardley with her son, Jack, who found employment thanks to WEST's help
Joy Yardley with her son, Jack, who found employment thanks to WEST's help

Grave concerns have been voiced over plans to axe services for people with learning difficulties.

The Warwickshire Employment Support Team, WEST, could be closed by Warwickshire County Council, saving £280,000 a year.

And Joy Yardley, whose son Jack is working as an apprentice because of WEST’s help, is worried about what the future now holds.

She said: “WEST’s services are all tremendously important to the disabled in finding paid work and living as normal a life as possible.

“Jack’s mentor at WEST, Julian Barnett, realised he hadn’t got much confidence with traffic and crossing the road.

“He got Jack through it and now he can get the bus into Warwick on his own. WEST has been absolutely marvellous.

“The key part of WEST’s work is the rapport it achieves with the disabled. What will happen to these people in the future?

“I am gravely concerned about everyone, as without WEST their chances of finding paid work are very slim.”

Joy, who lives in Princethorpe, said she received the information about the possible closure on Friday August 5, and was told there would be a meeting for people to voice their concerns on the following Monday.

She added: “From what I have been able to gather, the meetings are not about why we should keep WEST open, but rather ‘WEST is closing, any ideas on how to give support to the disabled?’

“One suggestion was ‘go to the job centre’, which sounds plausible but without the one-to-one knowledge and rapport WEST has with its users, this is clearly a non-starter.

“Also, at no time have parents of these vulnerable adults been contacted directly.”

The council has told WEST’s users that it will look for new ways to help them, including greater use of learning disability wellbeing hubs, using Job Centre Plus or charities like Scope and Mencap.

Cllr Jose Compton, portfolio holder for adult social care, said: “Sometimes, very difficult decisions have to be taken in order for the authority to deliver the savings that are required. This is one of those decisions that has not been taken lightly.

“However, we are confident that by maximising use of other provisions we can best meet people’s needs.”

Anyone wishing to express their views should visit askwarks.wordpress.com/2016/08/02/west-consultation by Friday September 30.