PROTESTERS have stepped up their fight to save Moorlands Day Service from closure.
The future of the centre in Buxton Road, which is used by people with learning difficulties, is presently under consultation by Staffordshire County Council.
On Saturday, protesters met in the centre of Leek to protest over the difficulties carers and families could face if the centre closed.
Lynn Lawton, of Cheadle, has a 25-yearold son attending the centre who suffers from learning difficulties.
She said: “If the day services close I will find it hard to cope.
“My son needs specialised one-to-one support. He loves going to the centre where he meets other people.
“He also needs his own space from his family and also we need to recharge our batteries.” Pauline Hall, who lives near Longnor, has had a son attending the centre for the last 12 years.
She said: “There is a desperate need for the Moorlands Day Service. My son has severe learning difficulties and has to have staff who understand his needs.
“I cannot manage without the service.
There is no way he could work in a charity shop.
“If someone see that he his developing into one of his outbursts the staff calmly deal with it.
“If he was somewhere else the police would be called.” “People look after him at the Moorlands Day Centre. They recognise it and deal with it.” Leek South county councillor Charlotte Atkins said: “The fight is on to save this vital service in Leek.
“It is an important respite for carers and at the same time gives a social life for people with learning difficulties.
“No-one knows who would get direct payments if the centre closed and what the money would buy, as it can cost up to £94 from private providers.” An online petiton has also been started which states: “The council are trying to deny the disabled the right to education and learning by tearing apart the long term friendships that have been made.
“We have been shown videos of some disabled people going out to work places.
“But many people attending Moorlands Day Services can’t go out to work as they are suffering from severe disablement and learning difficulties.
“However, one option put forward would see the service being taken over by charity and private organisations.
“If the centre closed there would be no respite for the carers, many who are elderly.
“Many carers do not have residential respite and Moorlands Day Services is their lifeline.
“A public meeting is urgently required as we cannot wait, as the consultation will be ignored, as it does not fit in with what the county council wants.
“One idea could be to utilise the large buildings for several other users as there is space, as the day services have been run down to 61 people as no new clients have been taken on for some time.” Robbie Marshall, Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, said: “As a county council we are committed to ensuring the highest levels of support to members of our community with learning disabilities.
“The level of support of course varies very much from person to person and we recognise that some people have complex needs which need to be met.
“While we fully understand the concerns of parents about any proposals to change, I would like to reassure all carers that this is a genuine consultation on how we improve the support provided and no decisions on any of the centres have been made.
“The consultation runs until mid-November and once we have gathered in every one’s views we will be able to make a decision on the best way forward.”