Parents’ emotional appeal to save disabled respite services in Cornwall

Internet appeal to save threatened respite services for disabled children in Cornwall.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Campaigners have launched an emotional internet appeal to save threatened respite services for disabled children in Cornwall.

More than 200 families in Cornwall use children’s short break respite homes in order to give disabled children more social opportunities as well as giving parents a break too.

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    Simon Judge with his son Gabriel who attendsSt Christopher’s Respite Home in Redruth

The Save St Christopher’s Redruth and Redwing Truro Respite Services petition was launched on Facebook on Tuesday.

It has already attracted more than 1,000 members, including parents of children using the services, after Cornwall Council said it may close both centres.

The petition calls on council leaders to retain the respite services, which many families say provide vital support.

In an impassioned plea Jodie Debenham wrote on Facebook: “Cornwall Council have proposals to close a much needed sanctuary and safe haven respite care unit in Redruth. Why should with severe disabilities and life limiting illnesses have the one tiny piece of enjoyment ripped away from them just because the government have overspent and need to claw some of the waste money back.

“ We plan to fight this all the way. We need sits, petitions, marches. We will not allow you to do this to our children.”

During a public meeting on Monday at Penventon Park Hotel in Redruth, officers outlined a proposal that would see the closure of St Christopher’s Respite Home in Redruth and Lowenna Redwing in Truro.

If the proposal goes ahead it could mean both homes are to be closed by June 2014. The council spent £5 million on respite breaks last year. The cuts are an attempt to save £24 million as part of the council’s draft budget.

Heather Ranson, also writing on the Facebook page added: “My daughter goes to St Christopher’s. She is devastated and I’m shocked, appalled and very, very angry. How can they do this? My eldest daughter and I cherish the time we can have together knowing that Holly is safe and having fun at St Christopher’s. I appreciate it so much as I’m a lone parent (hubbie died 6 years ago). I’ll join you with whatever we can do to stop this happening. I spoke with St Christopher’s manager, they are totally devastated.”

Rachel Rawicki is encouraging members of the public to support their campaign, signing copies of the petition which are available at

ARC Carwash , in Pool,

Mount Ambrose Post Office and Stores, and Starbucks at Chiverton Cross and in Truro.

Sue Pascoe also wrote on Facebook: “My autistic 12 year old son goes to St Christophers Lowenna in Truro. I am an older mum, somewhat disabled myself. The respite I get is a complete lifeline. My son loves going and loves and trusts the lovely staff. How can the council be so heartless to take this away from us?”

The council, which had previously denied any plans to close all children’s respite homes across Cornwall, said it had yet to confirm the future of the 20 staff at St Christopher’s and 18 at Lowenna Redwing in Truro.

A spokesperson from Cornwall Council said it spends around £10.5 million on services to support children with special educational needs and disabilities.

They added: “Unfortunately, with further reductions in Government funding and increased demands for services requiring the Council to save a further £196 million by 2019, we are being forced to review a number of the services we currently provide to children and young people.”

“We are at the very beginning of this process. Informal meetings are being held with affected staff.”

Proposals are set to go to the council’s cabinet in January.