'It's a place of safety' - petition calls for funding to save specialist day centre

Letchworth's Inga Hass with Jasmine, who has complex disabilities and attends Aurora Orchard Manor in Meldreth

Letchworth's Inga Hass with her daughter Jasmine, who has complex disabilities and has attended Aurora Orchard Manor in Meldreth for nine years. - Credit: Inga Hass

Parents of a woman with severe disabilities who attends a specialist skills centre - which is at risk of closure - have started a petition for more funds.

Inga Hass, whose 29-year-old daughter Jasmine has attended Orchard Manor Day Centre in Meldreth for nine years, started the petition after Aurora - which runs the centre - announced that the facility will close on July 23.

The petition calls for the government to provide funding to councils ringfenced for the provision of essential day care services for severely disabled people.

Inga Hass's daughter Jasmine, who attends the specialist day centre at Orchard Manor in Meldreth

Inga Hass's daughter Jasmine, who attends the specialist day centre at Orchard Manor in Meldreth - Credit: Inga Hass

Inga, who lives in Letchworth, said: "Please support my petition to help my daughter Jasmine, and other severely disabled adults with complex needs living within the community.

"Government funding needs to be provided to local councils, specifically for essential day services, for these vulnerable people who haven't got a voice."

Jasmine has complex physical and mental conditions, which means she requires round-the-clock care. She is registered blind, can't talk, has a feeding tube and uses a wheelchair.

Inga described Orchard Manor as Jasmine's "place of safety" for her to go to during the day, and that she relies on the specialist care she receives there.

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The petition asks that funding be provided to local councils and states that it should be a priority to set funding aside to ensure each individual's quality of life, health and wellbeing.

Julie and Jim Paterson from Stevenage, whose son Jamie has attended Orchard Manor since 2017, have added their support to Inga's petition, saying: "We need as many signatures as possible."

Jim and Julie Paterson from Stevenage with their son Jamie who attends Aurora Orchard Manor's Skills Development Centre. 

Jim and Julie Paterson with their son Jamie - he attends Aurora Orchard Manor's Skills Development Centre - a 'lifeline' day service for the 24-year-old who has profound and complex disabilities. - Credit: Paterson family

Orchard Manor was taken over by the Aurora group in 2016, and the Skills Development Centre includes an adapted kitchen, sensory room, music room, hydrotherapy pool and more.

Aurora explained that the centre is closing due to insufficient funding. A spokesperson said: "Its closure is no reflection on the quality of the service that we know families appreciate and it is unrelated to the pandemic.

“Regrettably we have no alternative as the centre no longer has enough demand with sufficient funding to cover running costs.

"Government policy now favours community inclusion which is often more economic to provide."

To sign the petition go to https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/588916