Petition move to save autism unit
Over 2500 sign up to campaign in one week
Over 2500 people have signed a petition calling for South and North Lanarkshire councils to fund the local Autism One Stop Shop in the long term.
Launched a week ago, the petition was set up by a parent who was told the lifeline centre will close at the end of June if both local authorities fail to provide financial backing.
The Lanarkshire facility is one of six Autism One Stop Shops that opened across Scotland in 2013 under the Scottish Government, in partnership with Scottish Autism, Autism Initiatives and The National Autistic Society Scotland.
Funded for two years, the shops were initially due to be handed over to local authorities, which were in that time tasked with developing their own local autism strategy.
But North and South Lanarkshire councils have failed to provide any cash, leaving the centre and the families who use it in crisis.
Karen Noble who launched her petition on Change.org said: “The One Stop Shop offers an advice line, drop in sessions, one to one appointments, workshops, support groups and a resource room full of books and information.
“They have been the most wonderful support for myself, my daughter and the rest of my family.
“Without them my life would have fallen apart.
“The One Stop Shop supports the whole of both North and South Lanarkshire. Hundreds of families who will be affected by its closure. Please save our One Stop Shop.”
Scottish Autism told the Reformer it had “made every effort” to liaise with North and South Lanarkshire councils regarding future funding and has submitted a comprehensive report on the working of the shop.
But a spokeswoman for South Lanarkshire Council confirmed, as the Reformer went to press, that no financial support would be provided.
Michelle McConnachie, adult and older people service manager for South Lanarkshire Council, said: “The Scottish Government advised that funding for the One Stop Shop would come to an end in March 2016 and requested feedback from the authorities as to the feasibility of the services continuing as part of the delivery mechanism for local autism strategies.
“South Lanarkshire Health and Social Care Partnership and the council have offered a commitment to work in partnership with Lanarkshire One Stop Shop to ensure that individuals with autism and their families can access support and guidance from within current [council-run] resources to meet their needs.”
Bobby Miller, head of adult social work services for North Lanarkshire Council, said: “We have received a funding application from Scottish Autism.
“However, the council, together with NHS Lanarkshire, already funds and supports HOPE, a local North Lanarkshire autism organisation, which provides information and support to individuals and their families.
“We have done this for some years with excellent outcomes for those affected by the condition.”
“Any additional service developments for people with autism will be part of the wider considerations for the Health and Social Care Partnership in North Lanarkshire.
“In the meantime if anyone is worried and needs advice or support to deal with their personal or a family member’s circumstances, they should phone or email Morris Howat, senior officer, who will try to link them with the right means of addressing their difficulties.
“Morris can be contacted directly by email: howatm@ northlan. gov. uk or by phone: 01698 332662.”
Lifeline Amanda Ayton and son Lyle depend on the lifeline service