Service Cuts hit home

Linda, as an adult with Williams Syndrome, is able to access the services provided for those with learning disabilities in our local area. For 9 months she has been attending a “Cooking with Confidence” class one evening a week and has made many absolutely delicious dishes over that time. Supported by an Agency Assistant she has learned to chop and whisk and mix and knead. I have been surprised and delighted with her progress.

Tonight was different. Tonight there were tears. Tonight the class ended.

Local budget cuts mean this class, which supports about 10 adults with learning disabilities, will run no more.

Provision of services for adults with learning disabilities in our area isn’t perfect but it’s better than many places, better than I had feared when Linda first moved in with us.

For the most part there are courses or activites which can support, educate or entertain our most vulnerable charges between 10am and 4pm, Monday to Friday. You have to fight for your slice but in theory, it’s possible. Some courses are great, some are little more than glorified baby-sitting but at least they are there. How parents or carers who have ‘proper jobs’ manage I have no idea. It’s only because Beth and I have planned for this and created really flexible careers that we can cope with these times – what would we do if we needed to leave home at 7am or return late every day? What do parents do who work shifts or weekends?

Classes that run in the evenings are rare. Cooking with Confidence has been a really enjoyable way for Linda to learn new skills, to begin to develop independent living skills. She’s not yet ready to cook her own meals as she needs support, supervision and a whole lot of prompting but she makes fantastic food. She makes new friends. Wow! Food and friends – it doesn’t get much better for a Williams Syndrome adult!!

Tuesday evenings were the only evening that Beth and I had a break, time to ourselves and any carer will know the value of that breathing space!

And now it’s gone.

We’ve not yet been informed about this by the Service Provider.

It’s only a message from the class teacher to explain the tears that has informed us that there will be no next term, no next time.

What do you do on the days that you feel like an insignificant cog in an uncaring engine? There has to be something more productive than shouting “It’s not fair!” to a world that’s not interested, engaged in it’s own pain. But what? And how?

Maybe it’s time to rediscover the political activism of youth…