Service users defend Ealing health centres

Over 60 people gathered in the Southall Baptist Church Hall, west London, to launch a vital campaign to save the Albert Dane Centre and the Links Project.

Neil Cafferky, London Socialist Party

The Albert Dane provides support for adults with physical disabilities while Links provides services for young adults with mental health issues.

The hall is situated opposite the Albert Dane Centre where campaign banners opposing the closure can be seen on the railings.

These services are not available anywhere else in the borough of Ealing.

According to staff and service users the proposal that the voluntary sector should fill the gap is inadequate.

The closures are part of ‘in year’ savings by the Labour controlled council, before the government’s comprehensive spending review in October.

Labour councillors were invited to the meeting but they declined to attend or even send apologies.

An Albert Dane Centre user, Val, told the meeting of how she had become isolated after her husband, her main carer, had died.

The centre was vital in helping her break out of her isolation and socialise with people on a regular basis. After going through a period when her confidence was at a low, she now chairs the service users’ group.

The 14-year old daughter of another service user said the centre was vital for her mother, who had been in a wheelchair for the past two years.

The final decision on the closures will be made by Ealing council at a cabinet meeting on 9 November. A mass lobby of that cabinet meeting is now planned.

The following morning a council executive removed the banners outside the Albert Dane Centre.

Service users walked out of a meeting with the centre’s management in protest at the destruction of the banners and management’s refusal to pay for replacement materials. The banners have now been replaced.

Big public campaigns have stopped the Albert Dane from closing before and this campaign can win as well.