On Thursday 12th November Medway Council’s Health and Adults Social Care scrutiny committee will debate the future of 147 Nelson Road, a well-established council owned facility used to support those with metal health problems in the local community.
The Centre, earmarked for closure by Medway Council as part of on-going cuts, helps those with mental health issues regain independence and learn how to cope better with long term conditions such as schizophrenia, bipolar and personality disorders.
Earlier this year, Medway Labour Councillors led a campaign to save the resource centre as it became clear that the service was highly valued by users, despite element of staffing and activities being run down in recent times. The Conservative council claimed the centre was outdated and that services offered there did not meet modern expectations.
Labour Councillors visitors the centre and spoke at length to staff and users. They found that the centre was in good order, in an accessible location and capable of offering a range of therapeutic and occupational activities as well as encouraging peer support and helping users develop independence. Users described how the centre had provided a safe haven and helped them regain confidence, manage medication better, improve their lifestyle and very importantly make new friends. It was clear that staff vacancies had not been filled and referrals to the centre by council social workers had diminished indicating an intention to run the service down making closure more likely.
A strong response to the public consultation and Labour’s campaign earned a pause in the closure plans which was further delayed by the Covid crisis and the centre did reopen in August on socially distanced terms which was widely welcomed by users.
Thursday’s meeting is a renewed opportunity for Councillors to make recommendation to the Medway Conservative Cabinet. There is still an option to retain and develop the services at 147 Nelson Road, and Labour Councillors will continue to push for this to ensure the needs and wishes of those who participated in consultation are respected.
Medway Labour and Co-operative Group Deputy Leader and Spokesperson for Health, Cllr Teresa Murray said that, ‘To have an option that retains the centre is welcome – closure proposals were short-sighted and wasteful.
‘It’s clear that we now have many more people in Medway who are experiencing mental health difficulties as a result of isolation and poverty caused by the Covid crisis and services were inadequate to meet exiting need even prior to this.
‘I insisted that Council members should be able to see the full results of the consultation to provide them with the insight needed to recognise how loved and valued the service at Nelson Road has been. The staff there are enthusiastic and willing to modernise but had not been given the resources and support they need to make this happen.”
You can access the agenda paper for Thursday’s meeting, with note to item 6, here.