"I think it's crazy and disgusting" says Louise Williams, whose mother Dorothy Mainwaring, has been shunted from Broughton to Ordsall, to who-knows-where in the future for her day care help…
We're talking about the massive contrast between Salford Council spending on Media City and the cuts to services for Salford's most vulnerable people.
The Council is looking to save £816,000 on the `reconfiguration' of day services by 2013 – and that is less than a third of the cost of Salford Council's sponsorship of the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra which by 2013 will have cost another £3million, as part of the £20million total deal.
`Crazy and disgusting' indeed. Does Louise think that Media City tenants, the BBC or ITV will do a documentary on it? She just laughs… "They should do a documentary on how the real people of Salford are living…"
The real people of Salford include elderly and the vulnerable younger citizens whose families have paid taxes all their lives and now need help – only to find the safety net being pulled from under their feet, thanks to ConDem Government cuts and local council compliance.
For the last few weeks, Salford Council has been `consulting' on the future of day care centres in the city. These centres are where people can go to get everything sorted, from hair dos to pedicures, to getting flu jabs, to eating a hot meal to dancing and socialising. They are vital to the lives of those who attend and give a welcome break to their carers. Already, Salford Council has imposed a transport charge of £3.50 a day to get to the centres. And now the centres themselves are under threat.
Salford Council is still saying absolutely nothing about the `withdrawing of funding' from the day care centres – and those faced with closure or amalgamations, the Salford Star understands, are Craig Hall in Irlam, Brierley House in Little Hulton, St George's in Charlestown and Humphrey Booth in Ordsall.
Louise's mother, Dorothy, 79, currently attends Humphrey Booth twice a week, having been moved there from Broughton just over 12 months ago…
"At first we were all of the same mind, that it was a bit of an upheaval particularly for the older ones who didn't want to participate or anything" she recalls "We were a bit apprehensive but as the months went on we settled down and everything was going nicely, until we got this load of baloney…"
Louise and Dorothy both attended the consultation on the future of Humphrey Booth last week, and seem none the wiser about what the hell is going on. No press or public were allowed to go to the consultation, and no councillors attended either.
"There was so much noise going on I could hardly hear but I think the gist is that they're going to amalgamate three or four big centres because apparently they all offer different amenities" says Dorothy "They are closing three or four centres, which upsets me greatly because my old boss was William Jones who was chairman of the trustees of Humphrey Booth. If he was still alive he would have gone spare, I'm sure about that. However the powers that be know differently.
"Yes I do think it should stay open" she insists "The changes are going to upset a lot of people, particularly the older ones who can't cope with it. It's them who it's all about for me. The girls who work there are smashing, they'd do anything for you and the old people know them. I think it will hit the older people hard, and I don't think it will do the younger people any good either."
The last time Salford Council ran a consultation about the increase in transport charges, it tried to hide the negative results before tearing them up (see here). And Louise is in no doubt that this consultation will go the same way.
"The consultation was all rehearsed" she says "It was just a process that they have to go through, like they do with everything… `It's not cut and dried' they say. But we know differently…"
This is why no-one is waiting for the consultation results (if they are ever made public). The resistance to the potential Humphrey Booth closure began last Saturday with a really well attended meeting at St Clement's Church in Ordsall, led by Rev Sandra Kearney, and continues with a city-wide Public Meeting this Saturday in Swinton. Defend Our Day Centre Petitions and leaflets are also being circulated.
After the Ordsall meeting, the Salford Star spoke to people who have seen the closure coming over the past year or more and are convinced that the whole process has been engineered.
Marjorie Williams was a member of the local social group who met at Humphrey Booth to do dancing and socialising. Last year, the group was given six weeks to vacate the premises.
"Now, on reflection, we can see that it was `united you stand, divided you fall' because that's what they've done" she argues "They've got rid of us because they know that the older people aren't able to fight in the same way and speak up for themselves. So we are now trying to do it for them."
Meanwhile, we understand that part of the Council's rationale for withdrawing funding is that there aren't enough older people using the centre - but there's a waiting list to get into Humphrey Booth…
"My daughter works for a company which does domiciliary care in Ordsall, and staff have identified a number of people who they take care of who need to be going to Humphrey Booth because they're just sitting vegetating all day long" explains resident Stacey Cass "But they've been told there's a waiting list and people are being turned away.
"It's absolutely appalling, and they're expecting voluntary companies like the one my daughter works for to find volunteers to go and sit with people" she adds "Volunteers have other commitments and have problems with reliability, so Jane down the road sits there all day long waiting for meals on wheels, and then, no visit."
All the changes in adult social care are confusing for everyone, not least for elderly and vulnerable people at the sharp end of those changes. One thing everyone agrees on is that the changes are all about the bottom line rather than people's wellbeing.
"It's all about money" says Marjorie "The day care service was a safety net and now they're taking it away."
Her views are echoed by Stacey… "You had your hair dresser, pedicurist, doctors and nurses visits, flu jabs, all the things in one place and now they're taking it all away, it's disgusting."
`Crazy and disgusting', as Louise explained.
Defend Our Day Care Centres Public Meeting
Saturday 21st January 12-2pm
Swinton Royal British Legion, Cheetham Road
Swinton M27 4UQ
There's also a coach going to the Swinton meeting from St Clement's Church in Ordsall at 11:20am. Petitions and leaflets will be available at this meeting.
There's a further Public Meeting in Ordsall on Saturday 28th January
St Clement's Church, Grove Street 12-2pm
See previous Salford Star articles: click here and click here