Protestors were out in force in Lewes on Saturday campaigning against proposed cuts to the East Sussex County Council Adult Social Care budget, cuts that could result in the closure of the Isabel Blackman Centre here in Hastings.
The protest was organised by Emily Clarke of Lewes Labour and saw over 40 people meet outside the Phoenix Centre in Lewes, another of the day centres under threat. They marched through the town to County Hall where a rally was held and letters signed by those in attendance which were delivered to ESCC as part of the consultation process.
Residents from across the East Sussex attended the event and included carers and the families of service users. Emily recorded interviews with some of those present at the Phoenix Centre and at County Hall about their concerns. Her interviews will form part of a video submission to the Adult Social Care consultation which closed at midnight on Monday, May 28.
Emily said: “Following the ESCC consultation meeting on April 13, I felt that it was really important to bring people together to express their views and get the message across to ESCC loud and clear that further cuts to Adult Social Care, particularly day centres which provide such an essential service to vulnerable elderly people and their families, should not be on the agenda.
“It was very moving listening to the experiences of those affected, including Debbie Strydom a carer from Eastbourne who supports an 83-year-old woman with alzheimer’s who relies on Warwick House and has experienced huge benefits to her health and wellbeing from the service since her diagnosis.”
Debbie also spoke about the fact that the day centres give their clients “something to get up for every day.”
Richard Partridge, chair of Lewes and District Seniors Forum also expressed his concerns for “an ever increasing group of people who have paid in all their lives for services which they now need but are being withdrawn”.
Richard also spoke about his worries about the closure of Milton Grange in Eastbourne where he’d spent some time recovering from an injury. He described it as a solution for him at the time because he wasn’t ill enough to stay in hospital but wasn’t able to return home alone.
Richard told Hastings In Focus: “These services offer support to people in those situations, as well day care for elderly people with dementia and alzheimer’s as well as support and respite to families and carers so that they are able to go to work and look after younger members of the family,” he said.
One councillor spoke about the “poor choices” she believed ESCC was making.
Emily said: “If ESCC is proposing these cuts to save money, I believe that this is a really short-sighted move. Services like the smoking cessation group and foot clinics, if cut, will lead to more people having to go to already over stretched and underfunded hospitals causing bed blocking when people with Type 1 Diabetes experience complications with their feet as a result of not having them checked regularly. As we know this can lead to amputations and poor long term outcomes for their health and wellbeing.”
A video of the protest and interview was submitted by Emily Clarke as part of the ESCC Consultation Process and can be viewed here: