Bus service ‘hiccup’ leaves people with disabilities ‘trapped’

Karen Hughes with her brother Philip, angry the council has reduced the transport for users of the Washington Resource Centre.
Karen Hughes with her brother Philip, angry the council has reduced the transport for users of the Washington Resource Centre.
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Transport bosses have pledged to reinstate a bus service used by people in need of support after a “hiccup” which families say has left users trapped.

A new contractor has been brought in for Washington Community Resource Centre, which has left a gap in services for people with learning difficulties, physical disabilities and mental health issues.

During the first week, as the new contractor learns the routes and meets their 125 new customers, there have been some hiccups.

Philip Foster

While the 125 people who attend the Ayton Road venue can still reach its sessions, the loved ones of its visitors say they have been left without the transport they need to reach activities during the day - including swimming classes, its allotment and shops to collect cookery supplies.

Among those affected are Philip Hughes, 52, from Houghton, who has cerebral palsy and has been left angry after he could not reach his regular swimming sessions at the centre’s sister venue in Fulwell.

Transport for its users, as well as those who visit the Grindon Mews Community Resource Centre, which is also run by Sunderland Care and Support, has been unaffected. Philip’s sister Karen, 53, said: “This means he’s stuck.

“He’s been very worried. He feels trapped.”

Philip Foster, chief operating officer of Sunderland Care and Support, said: “Nobody is cutting any transport for vulnerable people.

“During the first week, as the new contractor learns the routes and meets their 125 new customers, there have been some hiccups.

“However, we’re working hard to resolve these hiccups, including looking at how we can support people to attend our popular evening club.

“I would like to apologise for any inconvenience.”