A Rothesay parent has written an open letter to Argyll and Bute Council and the Scottish Government over the threat facing a local charity which provides care services for children with additional needs.
Raemarie Lilley’s letter - published in full below - was written after Achievement Bute contacted the families of the Bute children it supports, stating that its much-admired care service would cease after March 31.
The charity’s board members have taken the decision - which they say was made “with great regret” - because of changes in the way of providing funding for people who need support.
The Self-Directed Support (Scotland) Act will be implemented in full in Argyll and Bute from April 1.
An online petition has been set up in support of the charity - click here to find out more and add your support.More on this story in the new edition of The Buteman, on sale from Thursday, March 12.
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Mrs Lilley’s letter reads as follows.
To Argyll and Bute Council, Cleland Sneddon [the council’s executive director of community services], Bute councillors and the Scottish Government:
I am writing this open letter to you all to ask for your support and to ask Argyll and Bute Council to reconsider their offer to fund Achievement Bute under the Self-Directed Support system (SDS).
The way I see this is this is not just a disability rights issue but a local community issue, as Achievement Bute is an ‘inclusive’ charity who run play opportunities for all children to enjoy.
They also provide support so children with additional needs can access other local clubs which run in our community, which some children would not be able to access as they need support to participate.
They have the local knowledge to facilitate for my child and yours to play beside each other without barriers, just as the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child suggests.
Article number 31 says “you have the right to play and relax by doing things like sport, music and drama”, and article 15 says “you have the right to be with friends and join or set up clubs, unless this breaks the rights of others”.
Achievement Bute meets these articles. They provide home care support so children with additional needs can socialise with their friends and peers while creating great play opportunities for all children. They listen and set up activities led by suggestions from the children - all the children.
Achievement Bute, however because of the way Argyll and Bute Council are implementing SDS on the basis of a rigid hourly rate, have been left with no choice but to close their care service.
Mr Sneddon suggested in an email to me that they have asked Achievement Bute “to extend their notice period by three months to allow for transition and in the interim we are in discussion with other registered providers who could provide support services on Bute”.
More ‘cost effective’, faceless, not inclusive, agencies I fear. The thing is any parents and children that I have spoken to do not want another service. They want Achievement Bute to continue to provide the excellent service that they have been doing for the last 17 years.
Article 12 of the UNCRC says “you have the right to an opinion and for it to be listened to and taken seriously”. Article 3 says “adults should do what’s best for you”.
Is our local council going to meet these articles? And will they, please, put the people before the pound this time for the most vulnerable in our community?
Are they going to segregate children because of cost? Please go back to Achievement Bute and renegotiate. Please do not let this valuable local service go down the tubes. Please think of our most vulnerable and make the right decision for all our children. I understand there are hard choices to make in this world, as money is tight. But don’t make the most vulnerable be “punished in a cruel and hurtful way” as suggested in the UNCRC Article 37.
To the Scottish Government, I suggest the implementation of SDS is causing detriment to the very people to whom it was meant to give more choice and control.
Will we see more local organisations in rural communities have to close down services they have fought to establish to support the most vulnerable in our societies to be valued and seen as equals?
The implementation of SDS on Bute suggests we actually have no choice - and the choice being made for us by the local council as it is being dictated by “cost effectiveness” - i.e. price! What are you going to do to help?
As Article 4 of the UNCRC suggests “ you have the right to have your rights made a reality by Government”. Are you going to help put this right?
Any local help from our community will be greatly appreciated. Can our community stand side by side on this subject? Please come along to Guildford Square to show your support for the island’s children at approximately 1pm this Saturday, March 14.
And thank you to all who have already shown your support by signing our online petition. Please sign and share it. Believe in inclusion...believe in our community.