Fears for centre staff and users

Heath Road Day Centre
Heath Road Day Centre
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PROPOSALS to close four Wigan day centres have sparked concern among unions.

Wigan Council is currently undergoing consultation about the Heath Road centre in Ashton; Fourways in Tyldesley; Heathside in Leigh and Ullswater in Lowton.

If these sites shut, current users - who comprise pensioners and younger members with disabilities - will relocate to existing day centres across the borough or seek alternative opportunities via voluntary groups, community interest companies or social enterprises.

UNISON, which represents staff working in Wigan day centres, has expressed concerns about the impact it will have on the 50 employees involved across all sites and its users,

Regional organiser Neal Linsky said: “It’s a real tragedy that some of the most vulnerable and frail members of society will see their local day centres closing due to government austerity measures.

“UNISON welcomes spending some of the money on developing houses with extra care and supported living, but that’s no consolation to those who use their local day centre to socialise and have a meal.

“We will work hard to help our members find alternative posts, but we are under no illusion that if these day centres close it will mean job cuts.”

But while Age UK Wigan welcomes more choices for users, it is insistent that money saved should be re-invested.

A spokesman said: “It is important that we are continually reviewing the best care options both for individual older people and for the wider population.

“It isn’t always the case that keeping what we’ve had for a long time is right or necessary.

“We need reassurance that the money saved from any restructuring of existing services will be re-invested in alternative services and older people helped with any transition.

“As the population of older people grows, we need more and alternative types of day provision and social care.

“The ability to meet other people and feel part of a community is still an important part of most peoples wellbeing.

“This can be done in new ways, often giving better outcomes and value for money.”