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SALFORD COUNCIL CONSULTATION SHAM AS MENTAL HEALTH CARE WORKERS AXED
 

Star date: 18th September 2012

SALFORD CARE WORKERS ALREADY AXED AS CONSULTATION BEGINS ON THEIR FUTURE

"Should these drop-ins and groups cease to exist, these service users would relapse into severe depression and become isolated again, which could lead to self harm and potentially suicide…" Steve Cullen, service user

As Salford Council begins a consultation with Mental Health service users around its proposed axing of three community care workers who organise and support their weekly drop-in sessions, staff have already been told they're getting sacked.

"We want service users, carers, volunteers and the public to have their say" it states on the Council's consultation webpage. But the cut is already a fait accompli. Service users have organised to defend their drop-ins, with a huge public meeting organised for 1st October. They've called themselves the United Services Users Committee, or USUC!

Full story here…


`THIS CAMPAIGN IS ABOUT SAVING LIVES…'

"Speaking as a service user I can testify, that the drop-ins and groups, have provided confidence for those trapped and isolated within their own homes" says Steve Cullen "This has enabled them to venture out and meet others. Should these drop-ins and groups cease to exist, these service users would relapse into severe depression and become isolated again, which could lead to self harm and potentially suicide. Therefore this campaign is not just about activities but saving lives."          

Anyone who has had any dealings with anyone who has mental health issues will know about the importance of weekly drop-in sessions, which allow people to get out of the house and meet fellow sufferers for mutual support and to take part in activities. It also allows their carers a bit of breathing space to get on with their own lives.

Salford Council, in collusion with Greater Manchester West NHS Foundation Trust, wants more one-to-one work to aid people's mental health recovery, and is stopping its community care workers from organising service user groups and running the drop-in sessions. In addition, staff have been told that three community care workers' posts will be axed.

While the staff have been consulted about the future of the service, carers and service users were not consulted at all, and kicked off about it. So yesterday, as a huge public campaign was being launched to save the drop-ins, pointing out that there had been no consultation, Salford Council began one, which runs until February 2013… "We want service users, carers, volunteers and the public to have their say" it states on the Council's consultation webpage (see here).

What it doesn't say is that the cut is already a fait accompli, as the staff have already been told their jobs have been axed.

"It became clear to our members very quickly that, even more than an attack on jobs, this was an attack on services…and that the users of those services would only be consulted after the decision was made" says Steven North, Branch Secretary, Salford City UNISON "Our members were told to keep the news to themselves at the risk of `upsetting' service users, but we reject such a patronising approach. These service users are human beings and have the right to become upset when somebody is trampling all over their rights. The service users say they want to help fight for our members' jobs and in turn we want to help fight for the services they need."

Service users, fighting to save their drop-ins, have joined together and formed themselves into a new group - United Services Users Committee, or its beautifully titled acronym USUC

USUC is now campaigning alongside UNISON, which is considering industrial action in support of its staff members, and Salford Against The Cuts. Together they have organised a public meeting to Defend Mental Health Services on Monday October 1st at Swinton Royal British Legion, and have written to Mayor Ian Stewart

"Effectively, a consultation now null and void by definition, will take place with one of the options, the current facilities, being already removed from the equation" it states "We believe that the decision…should not have been taken prior to the completion of that service user and carer consultation…The fact that the decision has been taken at this stage goes against the principles of natural justice and Salford City Council's alleged commitment to protecting the most vulnerable in our city."

Salford Council has already cut £140,000 from its Mental Health Accommodation support (see here), and aims to save another £80,000 by deleting three Community Care Worker posts.

The Council argues that its wants "more people to be able to get a one-to-one service from the community care workers" but, by cutting staff and drop-in support that helps some of the most vulnerable people in the community it will have the opposite affect, as these comments from service users, of the many we have seen, underlines…

"I do get a lot of support coming here because I can be myself and when I feel down it feels like it's the only place I can come and not be judged. If I didn't have a place like this to come to I would end up staying at home alone and not seeing anyone."

"When I heard about drop-ins was going to close I was really annoyed because I thought they were going to look after people with Mental Health. Getting people together helps their wellbeing, meeting friends, chatting to other people who understand what they're going through, most are living on their own. We also had other groups here like art, choir, craft and woodwork which have all been stopped which is very sad for us service users."                                                                                                                   

"The drop-in is very important to me because it is a safe place where I can meet like minded people and feel comfortable in a friendly environment."                                  

"The drop-ins have improved my social skills and it's the only place that I feel I am able to meet people that understand me. I would be lonely and isolated without it."

Salford Council's Mental Health cuts also go against its own bombshell report predicting "higher levels of depression and mental health problems" as a result of ConDem Government policies on welfare and employment (see here).

The letter to the Mayor ends by stating "None of the people represented want to see a battle with our Council over this issue, but we are committed to fighting with all means available to us, if the decision is not reversed."

A message to the Council, and another message in the service users' organisation title – USUC…


Public Meeting
Defend Mental Health Services
Monday 1st October, 7pm
Swinton Royal British Legion
Cheetham Road
Swinton, M27 4UQ

Vee Ball wrote
at 15:10:04 on 23 September 2012
Speaking as a carer for a service user and now as Chair of our new commitee U.S.U.C. I can not beieve that councils and mental health trusts think that isolating, vulnerable people and making them feel lonely, desperate and suicidal, at their future prospects of little help is actually helping them to better support.Shows they know nothing in reality of what Mentally ill people really need. They never botherd to check or think it through before they made the proposal. Probably because speaking as someone who has worked for the public sector involved in restructures, around estates, their reasons were more about freeing up space so they could let go other leases and change the use of buildings like Cromwell House, Ramsgate House and other venues used for these support gatherings.Its as dispicable as property developers who throw people out of their homes to build supermarkets in their place. They keep telling them they will get these services in another fashion, somewhere else. We have proved that somewhere else as they suggest will cost more. So how does that equate to economic savings over all. This plan was part of a bigger picture (usually a 3 year accomodation plan) We have already got evidence of this being discussed in part as far back as 2008. Not only are they guilty of no consultation now they have never intended to carry that out until the 11th hour when they belie ved it was too late for vulnerable people to act. Well Council and Trust U.S.U.C has proved its never too late and we intend to keep on fighting to save our drop ins not just as a service but as these actual venues which have become safe homes to these people. We have put up logical argument why it makes economic sense to keep them and a host of other more important reasons under welfare and safety for not just the users but other members of the public too. Please get behind us as you are doing now and come to our public meeting. 1 october at Swinton Royal British Legion 7PM Everyone is welcome this impacts on everyone in the end. TOGETHER WE CAN SHOW THEM IT IS NEVER TOO LATE TO ACT.
 
Lisa L wrote
at 12:16:26 on 23 September 2012
We are supposed to protect the most vulnerable people in our city. What will these cuts achieve anyway? People being more socially isolated, on the margins of society. How would the mayor feel if he had a couple of hours of support each week - that's it - no more social contact in the rest of the week. That kind of isolation would make all people ill, yet the council are targetting people who are already experiencing sever mental distress. many people do not have friends & family who are able to support them, they rely on community workers such as these. Mental illness is isolating enough, without taking life-saving services away from us. The sham of a consultation is also an insult to the people of this city. Shame on you Salford City Council.
 
unhappy with lies wrote
at 20:54:34 on 22 September 2012
Come on good people of Salford,lets all stand together on this no more CUTS.Today Mental Health, tomorrow what?.Police,Fire,Schools,NHS? Oh sorry they have already been cut,why not cut something we all agree on,like there wages or there post in office.How many people does it take to make these decisions.Problem solved.Caring Sharing MAYOR get rid of some of your assistant mayors.
 
Michael Felse wrote
at 21:39:31 on 21 September 2012
Saw the Advertiser, how sad. When I was Labour Party Consistency Secretary and election agent to Doncaster MP for 15 years. Then Labour stood up for socialism and went to every end to support vulnerable people in our society. My views never changed which I think is why Labour had to expel me. Clearly they forget what it means to be a socialist. How can we trust Labour as the fighters for social justice? Salford Council needs to stop looking over their shoulders at what Eric Pickles would make of them if they invested in our Mental Health and start funding these priority jobs.
 
Fed up of cuts wrote
at 10:26:09 on 21 September 2012
One-one support is alright for some people,group drop-in for some people is better,stops them being isolated,gives them purpose to go out to safe places.Take away these drop-ins and more people would end up in hospital,or cemetery.
 
stevie c wrote
at 17:44:50 on 20 September 2012
In response to Peter Connors article in advertiser,[page6]I would like to remind him that he was in favour of keeping these drop-ins open,if not to open more. Still waiting for him to come for visit so he can get a better insight into them. My how times change when talk of money.Let us not forget this money is not coming out of his pocket,but our taxes.
 
Vulnerablenotstupid wrote
at 04:41:14 on 20 September 2012
I think it is disgraceful that a decision has already been made to get rid of jobs without speaking to patients and finding out what their views are. I think that one to one work is very important but when there is no one there on a home visit, what are people supposed to do for the rest of the week? Wait for the next visit? Who is in charge of this joke of a consultation? Get someone outside of the council to do a fair consultation of patients, staff and other salford residents too.
 
Concerned Service Users wrote
at 04:40:54 on 20 September 2012
Who needs these Tory-LibDem cheerleaders when we have Ian Stewart,who stated that he will protect the most vulnerable people of our city.Salford needs a strong voice that will stand up for our city.
 
stevie c wrote
at 04:40:00 on 20 September 2012
A strong voice that will stand up for our city, don't make us laugh Mr MAYOR,nothing but a Tory-LibDem cheerleader.Two faced back stabber.......... Leave our services the way they are. Don't close or take care-workers out of drop-ins..........
 
Concerned Service Users wrote
at 18:17:33 on 19 September 2012
How can G.M.M.H.F.T.cut 3 post then employ outside staff to do there jobs, who has mental health issues,us or them?.Two face back stabbers.
 
J wrote
at 11:50:10 on 19 September 2012
And if you look at the MEN twitter blog of todays SC Council meeting you can see that the Cllrs spent half the meeting praising themselves are bleating that local people dont understand what a great job they do for us-although one did say that SCC is less transparent now than it was 20yrs ago.I think its time they televised these full council meetings so we can really see how they perform on our behalf
 
Vicky wrote
at 09:50:06 on 19 September 2012
We are being 'cut' at every angle, from mental health services to school breakfast clubs, from youth services to street cleaning, from elderly people's homes to regeneration schemes...Salford Council may have obligations to save money but it gets a choice how it saves this money, and it has echoed the Tories by cutting for the most vulnerable first - and along wit that is creating a longer dole queue...people of Salford what are we going to do about it? Can we be the first city to truly protest?
 
Winston Smith wrote
at 05:34:29 on 19 September 2012
Michael - the council broke its election pledges?!? No Shit! Who would have seen that one coming?!
 
not happy wrote
at 16:26:15 on 18 September 2012
would'ent it be nice if our greedy mayor and his team of nine would like to share some of there wages which comes out of our tax'es ;; this adds up to 250'000 pounds, that's nearly twice as much as the metal health cuts so much for our caring,sharing,Mayor
 
Michael Felse wrote
at 13:29:26 on 18 September 2012
Speaking as a member of Unison and one whose parents suffered sever mental illness before their deaths I am deeply disappointed at any reduction in services to any vulnerable residents in our society. We had election pledged assurance from our Labour Mayoral candidate and Salford Councillors that such cuts would not be made. I am unable to contain my anger towards elected representatives at any u-turn that causes people to suffer. Power to Unison, shame to Salford Council.
 
Sick of Them All wrote
at 13:28:48 on 18 September 2012
Mayor Greedy and his inept chums think it's fine to squander OUR money on bullshit fountains and other crap schemes , whilst slashing funding and jobs for essential services . It' s time to form a Peoples Posse , storm the Clown Hall , and have us a mass lynching .
 
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