Par­ents will fight to keep Autism ser­vice

One Stop Shop closes after coun­cils with­draws cash

Rutherglen Reformer - - News - Edel Ke­nealy

The fight to re­tain the La­nark­shire Autism One Stop Shop ( OSS) will con­tinue de­spite the clo­sure of the much-loved ser­vice on Fri­day.

Ex­pert staff and autism trained ad­vis­ers closed the doors of the life­line OSS on June 4 after both North and South La­nark­shire Coun­cils re­fused to fund the ser­vice in the long term.

But par­ents and sup­port­ers of the OSS have vowed to con­tinue their fight un­til the ser­vice is re­in­stated.

A pe­ti­tion, call­ing on both lo­cal au­thor­i­ties to cover the OSS an­nual £150,000 run­ning costs, was this week handed over to coun­cil chiefs and the Scot­tish Govern­ment.

It was signed by more than 7,000 peo­ple.

Karen Noble, whose daugh­ter has autism, started the pe­ti­tion six weeks ago.

She told the Re­former fam­i­lies liv­ing with autism were not giv­ing up.

“Par­ents feel­ings are a mix be­tween heart­break and fury fol­low­ing the clo­sure on Fri­day,” Karen said.

“This pe­ti­tion has been signed by the autism di­ag­nos­tic team, so­cial work­ers, speech and lan­guage ther­a­pists, CAHMS, oc­cu­pa­tional ther­a­pists, teach­ers, pae­di­a­tri­cians and many more pro­fes­sion­als from La­nark­shire. These pro­fes­sion­als have also writ­ten to the two coun­cils ask­ing for the fund­ing to con­tinue as this ser­vice is vi­tal.”

North and South La­nark­shire coun­cils are the only lo­cal au­thor­i­ties in Scot­land that have not pro­vided fund­ing for a OSS.

Of the six which were set up and funded by the Scot­tish Govern­ment for three years, five have been adopted by a coun­cil.

And while South La­nark­shire Coun­cil has promised to set up its own, “im­proved” One Stop Shop, its first sup­port group held on Mon­day was lam­basted by par­ents.

Karen said: “The sup­port group didn’t run as a sup­port group.

“The par­ents got no sup­port, there was no one to­day that had training in autism, there were no autism ad­vis­ers.”

She added: “It took Scot­tish Autism, an ex­pert in the field, over six months to set up the One Stop Shop so South La­nark­shire Coun­cil are go­ing to take at least six months. Vul­ner­a­ble chil­dren and adults will be left with­out sup­port in the mean­time.”

Brenda Hutchin­son, so­cial work head of ser­vice at South La­nark­shire Coun­cil, said: “We have put in place in­terim ar­range­ments to make sure there is no break in ser­vices for par­ents and ser­vice users fol­low­ing the clo­sure of the Mother­well OSS after na­tional fund­ing came to an end.

“De­tails have been sent to fam­i­lies who at­tended a meet­ing on May 10, or who have made in­di­vid­ual en­quiries.

“The coun­cil re­mains com­mit­ted to de­vel­op­ing the South La­nark­shire OSS to pro­vide not just con­ti­nu­ity of ser­vice but, in fact, to fur­ther im­prove it, in­clud­ing bet­ter in­te­gra­tion with other sup­port ser­vices in the area for peo­ple with autism.

“We will con­tinue to work in part­ner­ship with par­ents and ser­vice users and will lis­ten to all views that are ex­pressed. These will in­form the next steps in­clud­ing the ser­vice’s per­ma­nent base, ser­vices of­fered, open­ing hours etc.”

Heart­break­ing Fam­i­lies say good­bye to staff as they close the La­nark­shire One Stop Shop

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