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SALFORD COUNCIL CLOSES CHILDREN’S SPECIAL NEEDS GROUPS IN IRLAM
 

Star date: 26th September 2013

`IT'S DISCRIMINATION' STATES POSITIVE MOVES AS £51M PROFIT COMPANY TAKES OVER

Tonight will see the closure of groups supporting children with special needs in Irlam and Cadishead, as Salford Council removes the contract to provide the service, from the locally based Positive Moves group, in favour of five other organisations, one of which, Core Assets, is a huge global company that made £51.6million gross profit last year.

Now eighty `devastated' children with special needs and their families will lose a much valued local activity group. The campaign against the closure is already under way.

Full details here…


Positive Moves, based in a small building in Irlam, has, since 2006, provided all sorts of after school and holiday activities for up to eighty young people with special needs.

The twice weekly sessions are unique and pioneering in Salford, in that local children have been trained to support children with special needs, which has broken down prejudice and built bridges within the community. They help with all sorts of things like healthy eating sessions, sports, crafts and dancing.

Last week, when they found out that Postive Moves had lost its funding for the sessions, they and other local kids immediately created a banner… `Please Help 2 Save Our Local Special Needs Group For Children + Young People'

The campaign, by the young people and parents is now well underway, with an epetition already online (click here) and more activities planned to try and shame Salford Council into reversing its decision.

The Council has moved away from giving worthy groups like Positive Moves a grant to get on and do their great work, to a formal tendering process which is open to anybody and any organisation to bid for the cash. The `winners' are those who score highest on a tickbox, scoresheet exercise, no matter what the current grant holder has been up to. The `winners' are also those who are best at filling out forms and complying with the procedures…

"For me it's like doing an exam, so all the course work we've been doing delivering the services over the last three years has not been taken into account" says Sylvia McDowell, Positive Moves' project manager "They would argue that is the case for everyone, so the reason might be that I've scored less on the scoresheet might be because they've asked me about `strategic priorities' and I've not had the time to do research into that or I've not understand fully what they're asking.

"It's things like that, not how we have delivered the service or what success we've had" she explains "I feel like we are unfairly discriminated against because we haven't got that back up support and infrastructure."

Five other organisations, with no direct links to Irlam and Cadishead, have been handed the cash - Barnardo's, Stockport Cerebral Palsy Society, Oakwood Youth Group, The Federation of Jewish Services and Core Assets.

Core Assets is a massive group of companies whose businesses and consultancy services stretch to Australia, America, Finland, Japan and even Labrador. It had a £162million turnover and made a gross profit of £51.6million last year (it also has liabilities of £23.8million and assets of £23.8million). It all seems a million miles away from eighty kids with special needs in Irlam and Cadishead. 

And while such huge companies are pinching the pockets of local groups, the impact on the young people, the staff and the local community in Irlam and Cadishead will be devastating…

"People who work with us will have less salaries and less sessions to run, so it impacts on them and the local economy" says Sylvia "And the families we work with will feel more and more isolated and will have to travel out of the area to take the young people to sessions. The impact is massive And they are not taking into account all that social value that we bring."

The staff at Positive Moves are almost in tears as they think of the impact on the young people…

"They integrate with all the other peer mentors, making new friends from the area, and do art and crafts, play pool lots of things" says team leader Elaine Annis "I spoke to parents last week as they are devastated; the young people were upset. I've never known them so quiet during the session. They were just in shock…These are young people with autism and aspergers, they just don't understand. They were saying things like `Where are we going to live?'. They have a routine. They just don't understand."

Casey Higginson lives in Irlam and is a youth apprentice at Positive Moves. She's in her second year of training for a possible career, which is surely ticking all of Salford Council's apprentice pushing policies. But that's not taken into account during the `formal procurement process'…

"When this goes I don't know where it will lead" she says "They gave me a really good opportunity but it might be over because of this. I've been doing all sorts of things with the young people and have created a really good bond. It's so disappointing. I'll just have to look for something else."

And Vicki Green is currently on work placement from the Metropolitan University of Manchester… "Since being here I am thinking of working with special needs children and young people, and this has given me so much experience" she says "But this is about the impact on the young people – it's just going to ruin them, I don't even want to think about it…"

Yet again, Salford Council's procedures, cuts, procurement…whatever…is destroying local services for the most vulnerable people in the city. Craig Hall Day Centre for vulnerable adults? Shut. The Grange short term respite centre for disabled young people? In the process of being shut. Springwood Special School? Special needs assistants axed. Mental health drop-in sessions? Moved and scaled back. And lots more to follow.

"I'm arguing about the process of our funding cut, it's the whole procedure and how it favours really big organisations" explains Sylvia "Why shouldn't the Council fund this service locally? These are the most vulnerable young people we've got in this community and it needs to be funded by Salford Council. We will fight for this."

Salford Star asked Salford Council for a comment but, as usual, no response or even acknowledgement of the request.

For more information on Positive Moves and the Campaign see the website - click here

* Last year Broughton Database also accused Salford Council of discriminating against small third sector organsisations - see the Mayor's response and more details in previous Salford Star article - click here

* UPDATE: 27th September

Salford Council has given the group an extra four weeks whilst they look at other options with providers... "We want the service to stay as it is and so do the children and parents, so that is what we will be working towards" says Sylvia.

 

Photo by Steve Speed

                                                      
wrote
at 05:39:19 on 02 October 2013
does anybody actually know or even care at all what kind of care these vulnerable children are getting? parents and media pkease please investigate this council obviously do not care they hide behind 'cuts' wonder if it was there child they would be so blase?
 
Joanne halliwell wrote
at 13:01:01 on 01 October 2013
Here they go again!!! It's not only these small organisation they are removing but THEY have destroyed springwood school, they know who are! getting rid of experienced dedicated staff to save money, it makes me so angry that children with special needs are again targeted. They need this support and much more. Please could Margaret Tunnercliffe post the time and date for the coffee morning the more people attend the stronger the fight. Hope Lucy and Nathan are doing good.
 
bob wrote
at 05:35:44 on 30 September 2013
In terms of bidding on contracts, 80% should be on the quality of service and quality of the company who provides it, only 20% is normally based on cost. In salford thats the other way round, so again one man and his does will get the contract if he's cheap enough.
 
life is loud wrote
at 11:17:50 on 27 September 2013
Its all about business and profit now which will deliver a cheap and second rate service and the vulnerable in society are the pawns in the game .
 
RM wrote
at 11:16:50 on 27 September 2013
Everyone seems to be forgetting, or they don't realise, that the Council is bound by law to award money in a fair and transparent way. To simply keep funding organisations with no opportunity to allow others to bid for the work is illegal and open to challenge. And the only fair way to allow companies to bid for work is to ask them all the same questions and award the contract to the company who answers them the best. It's not the Council's fault if these companies cannot demonstrate their achievements and future plan zoo well enough on paper. All you people who are claiming this is unfair need to campaign for a change in procurement law do that the Council can award money to whoever they choose. Oh wait, this would mean the same companies getting work over and over again, just because they are friends with the Council. And then you'd all have something else to moan about.
 
olga lawson wrote
at 20:27:40 on 26 September 2013
How discusting to close a service which impacts on the most vunerable in society! Shame on them
 
tracey mclaughlin wrote
at 20:27:36 on 26 September 2013
HANDS OFF, !!!!!!
 
wrote
at 20:27:28 on 26 September 2013
I think there is a petition against this on Salford.gov website
 
Wood for trees and all that! wrote
at 20:27:21 on 26 September 2013
In fairness Oakwood Youth Group who are connected to Oakwood school in Eccles (the only moderate needs high school in Salford) do masses of great work for kids all over Salford, both kids with and without special needs all are included and integrated. Knowing the great work that they do (and the council are aware of it) I would like to know why Oakwood alone could not have been awarded this contract if it HAD to be tendered? Surly using a local group that already has links in the community would be better for the kiddies that go there!
 
C Wycliffe wrote
at 20:26:57 on 26 September 2013
Yet more proof , if more is needed , that politicians can never be trusted . They are taxpayer-robbing , self-serving shites . All of them .
 
margaret tunacliffe wrote
at 17:10:54 on 26 September 2013
Yet again,they want to close places to the most vulnerable. What was the Mayor's manifesto oh yea "to look after and support the elderly,the most vulnerable" what a load of Bollocks. They simple do not care,and that is why Save the Grange Campaign are organising a coffee morning for families with disabled children who have had these cuts over these last years,anyone can attend including support services,social work,and starting life well services,anyone who have had services cut. This Council needs to be held responsible for what they are doing. Children and young people with disabilities are constantly struggling in life and places like these are there to help them get involved in the community as well as giving them something to work towards i.e making friendships and learning -some independence.
 
alan tunnacliffe wrote
at 17:10:23 on 26 September 2013
its about time we all got together and sorted this shower of shite out they think they can do whatever they want without any recriminations well we at save the grange can assure the council that we will never give up and you at positive moves should do the same good luck in your fight for fairness
 
Paul Gerrard wrote
at 17:10:07 on 26 September 2013
When the Con-Dem coalition came in Cllr Merry promised that he would protect the vulnerable from the worst of the cuts. Yet over the last three years whose lives have been wrecked? The elderly and disabled (day centres), the mental health service users, parents of disabled children (Grange), now this. Core Assets are a profit-making company and don't sound like an organisation you would want to displace local, sensitive not-for-profit providers. Wherever the corporate sector get involved they are looking to cut provision, reduce pay and conditions, as we have seen with the Future Directions dispute in Rochdale (recently featured on North West Tonight). It has emerged that Rochdale Council reduced the tender by 25% which is like a notice saying 'only sharks need apply'. Is that what happened here? We should see some transparency over this - or will that, as so much in Salford, be shrouded in the mists of commercial secrecy???
 
Geoff wrote
at 17:09:23 on 26 September 2013
So how much Net profit did the company make? Well £2,213,000 that's how much. I'm not sure what point you were trying to make.
 
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