Following the decision last week by Councillor John Warmisham to back off from withdrawing funding to day care services in Salford, which would have meant the closure of at least two day care services at Humphrey Booth in Ordsall and Craig Hall in Irlam (see here), there's going to be a Victory Party at Swinton Royal British Legion this Saturday, starting at 1pm.
A statement released by the Defend Our Day Centres campaign acknowledges the 12 month reprieve given by Salford Council but adds "The first battle is won but we need to keep fighting… As well as enjoying the good news, the event will be a place where people can discuss how staff, service users and members of the public can continue to work together to protect the services vulnerable people rely upon…"
As the campaign moves on to include other Council cuts, like to the transport that helps children with Special Educational Needs get to school in the morning, many of those involved in helping to save Humphrey Booth and Craig Hall are angry that within days of Salford Council doing its forced u-turn, a Labour Party leaflet circulated in Ordsall claimed responsibility when it was Labour councillors who proposed the cut in the first place…
"After listening to you the Ordsall Labour team asked for time to be given to look at other options" stated the leaflet "because of this the centre will stay open for at least another year…"
And Ordsall councillor, Ray Mashiter, who attended none of the campaign meetings, added… "I hope this news shows how committed we are to fighting to protect our services here in Ordsall from these damaging Tory-Lib Dem cuts…"
In response, Paul Gerrard of Salford Against The Cuts says…
"The cynicism of the Labour Party knows no bounds... Did the policy of closures not come from the Labour group then, and were these councillors conveniently absent when it was decided? Everyone knows that the policy was withdrawn, not because of their astute intervention, but because of the extremely active, broad and vocal campaign against it. The Labour Party's sudden and uncharacteristic desire to communicate with the Ordsall electorate suggests that the party is feeling anything but confident about May's elections…"
Meanwhile, related to the day care services proposals, Salford Council has also slashed the number of home care support workers by one third, semi privatising the service and changing rotas and conditions for those left working in the public sector.
Trade union, UNISON, which represents public sector workers, is warning that we face a growing crisis in elderly care. The union is calling for a National Social Care service, funded through general taxation to be set up to improve standards and give elderly people the dignity and care they deserve.
A report out recently from the cross party Health Select Committee has stated that the government's plans to integrate health and social care have so far failed due to lack of funds and proper planning.
"Our elderly deserve to live and be treated with dignity. But elderly care has consistently been chronically underfunded - and things are only getting worse" says Heather Wakefield, UNISON head of local government.
"Even before this latest round of cuts rained down on councils, 15 minute care slots were being sold off to the lowest bidder" she adds "Care workers tell us they don't have the time they need to care for elderly people properly. All too often they are paid on the minimum wage, don't get paid for travelling between appointments and don't get any training. How can quality services be delivered in this environment?
"We urgently need a National Care System, funded through general taxation. If we really want to tackle the growing crisis in elderly care we need to make sure staff are given the time they need to give patients the care they are entitled to."
There are many, many battles ahead…
Day Care Victory Party
Saturday 11th February from 1pm
Swinton Royal British Legion
Cheetham Road, Swinton, M27 4UQ