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Parents Pledge To Fight On
Karen Noble & Jennifer Gough
Two Hamilton mums, instrumental in fighting to save the Autism One Stop Shop (OSS) in Motherwell , joined a protest on Monday outside North Lanarkshire Council’s headquarters as they continued to highlight the importance of a facility that supports both North and South Lanarkshire families.
Jennifer Gough and Karen Noble both say the service has been a “lifeline” to them and a “wonderful support” and for it to close would have a great impact on all of its users and families.
The Scottish Government set up the Autism One Stop Shops to offer support and advice to both children and adults with autism as well as their families and professionals. Funding is set to change hands to councils.
Since the campaign began a few weeks ago to save the service, South Lanarkshire Council have announced plans to create their own One Stop Shop – a move which will not be copied by North Lanarkshire Council.
However, this has angered users, who say they are keen to keep the service they already have for a number of reasons and claim they haven’t been satisfied with the alternative proposals.
On Tuesday night, parents met with council chiefs at South Lanarkshire Council to discuss their proposal which would see them opening up an OSS hub in South Lanarkshire.
One parent said: “It was not a positive meeting with SLC. They could not answer any questions about what is going to happen, except it will be run by a development officer.”
Parents said SLC had plans to open the OSS in Fairhill Lifestyles, where they would book out rooms.
Jennifer added: “The authority said they would be offering a like-for-like service – this does not appear to be the case. Children with autism need continuity, and booking out rooms doesn’t seem like a like-for-like service. The timings for the new service too; which were proposed when many of our children are at school are also not suitable.”
One Stop Shop Protestors Outside Motherwell Civic Centre
Brenda Hutchinson, social work head of service, said: “Representatives from the council’s social work and education teams and NHS Lanarkshire had a very useful meeting with a group of parents and others on Tuesday evening.
“With national funding about to cease for the Lanarkshire One Stop Autism Shop, and it being clear that the continuation of a pan-Lanarkshire service would not be an option, we had already made clear our commitment to the creation of a One Stop Shop to meet the needs of people in South Lanarkshire with autism.
“That commitment was reiterated at the outset of Tuesday’s meeting, and it was also made clear that parents would have a big say in how the South Lanarkshire One Stop Shop is developed. Their views were sought on all aspects of the service, including where it might be based, how and when it would operate, and the range of services and support that would be available. The council and NHS officers listened to all views and concerns that were expressed, and these will inform the next steps as we work to ensure that a bespoke One Stop Shop is ready to support people in South Lanarkshire when the pan-Lanarkshire service closes. At the end of the meeting parents were asked to provide further feedback once they have had a chance to reflect on the discussion.
“To be clear: there will be a One Stop Autism Shop for South Lanarkshire and we will work hard with parents to ensure it not only provides continuity of service but, in fact, that the support it offers will be developed and improved, including better integration with other support services in the area for people with autism.”
North Lanarkshire Council Depute Leader, Councillor Paul Kelly, also met with the campaigners this week.
He said: “We agree completely with the One Stop Shop for Autism service users and their families. The funding issue is for the Scottish Government to resolve and we have already written to say so. The council leader and I met with the OSSA campaigners to offer our support. We already support local autism group HOPE, offering assistance across North Lanarkshire, and there is clearly a demand for increased services. But our budget has been slashed by the Scottish Government so it is entirely right we ask them to pay to support us to continue the One Stop Shop. SNP councillors, MSPs and MPs should go to their Government to keep the One Stop Shop open.”