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READER'S LETTER: Fears for vulnerable and disabled with day centre closure

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: March 10, 2014

The Milsom Street Day Centre

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Once again, Gloucestershire County Council is selling off the family silver.

I refer to the sale of Milsom Street Day Centre, which is going the same way as the Axiom, Northlands Youth Centre and Worcester House Day Centre.

It is being closed down and sold off. The 2gether Trust has already closed the day hospitals in Cheltenham.

Milsom Street Day centre is attended, by far more than the quoted 10 clients a day.

It hosts a number of groups for individuals suffering from mental health problems such as stress and anxiety management groups, bipolar groups, self harm groups and hearing voices groups, plus arts and crafts groups, photograph groups etc – every week.

It is also a venue for exhibitions of patients’ artwork and took part in the Cheltenham Art Studios.

It is also a drop-in centre.

In the evening it is a venue, for meetings of self help groups like rethink.

It used to host Gloscat computer groups until the Independence Trust took over from the 2gether Trust, two years ago and sold the computers off.

For decades it was a thriving day centre regularly visited by local MPs (for political kudos). Now they have abandoned it.

I used to attend Worcester House, a similar day centre on Pittville Circus Road, until it was sold off a few years ago.

The Charlton Lane psychiatric unit has also been closed to working age patients and there has been a huge reduction of in-patient beds at Wooton Lawn in Gloucester.

At the same time, patients with severe and enduring mental health problems who have had multiple hospital admissions have been discharged by their psychiatrists – back to GPs.

These patients have gone back to these GPs in a distressed state and been referred to Let’s Talk, the 2gether Trust counselling service, which has then told the same patients they are too ill for counselling and has referred the same patients back to the said GPs.

These patients are not ill enough to be treated by a psychiatrist – but too ill for the Lets Talk service.

At the same time, these same patients, many who have been unable to hold down a job for decades, have been declared fit for work by ATOS and their sickness benefits stopped.

My friends would love to work, but no employer is interested in them middle aged people with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, psychotic episodes and medical disabilities.

I fear for the future of the disabled and vulnerable – under this heartless, cruel and inefficient Tory regime, Cheltenham has a shocking suicide rate.

Concerned Cheltenham Resident

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