PARENTS and carers of severely disabled children have formed an action group to fight cuts to respite services which they see as an essential lifeline.
About 15 people attended the inaugural meeting of Save Our Respite Services (SORC) which opposes proposed cuts to the services provided by council-run Sea View Road care home.
The Ryhope centre gives parents and siblings much-needed overnight breaks on a monthly basis, by looking after youngsters with complex needs.
As previously reported in the Echo, Sunderland City Council wants to close the centre two nights per week in a money-saving exercise.
The parents have already won a reprieve and the consultation period has been extended until February so that the council has more time to take their views into account. Meeting organiser Pamela Mann of Pennywell, said: “The next step is to form a committee to plan a campaign of action to raise public awareness and turn the council away from targeting services for disabled children. These cuts cannot be allowed to go ahead, to what is the only such facility in Sunderland.”
Rob Charlton, from Voluntary and Community Action Sunderland (VCAS), has helped Pamela, 53, who is mum to Tara Lancaster 14, put together the initial constitution.
He will attend the group’s first few meetings to provide advice and support to committee members.
Anita Cutts, 45, attended yesterday’s meeting in Chester’s pub in Chester Road. The mum-of-two, whose daughter Ashleigh has severe learning difficulties and epilepsy, says the centre is vital to the 14-year-old.
“It’s the only place I can take her where I can trust people to look after Ashleigh and know that she’s safe,” she said.
“I have a younger daughter and when Ashleigh is in respite I can do things with her that Ashleigh can’t do and that’s the same for most families.
“They shouldn’t be cutting services when there are people waiting for places. They should be building more centres.”
Louise Henderson, 35, is mum to autistic Nathan, 12. “It’s a complete break for me and my husband and my nine-year-old daughter,” she said.
“We get two nights a month we use to spend time together. The staff are so experienced. It’s a fantastic centre and I can’t imagine being without it.”