MP calls for social care cuts to be reversed

A mental wellbeing project which has been earmarked for closure by Staffordshire County Council has won the support of Newcastle-under-Lyme MP Paul Farrelly.

Mr Farrelly has condemned “savage and cruel” cuts which could see the successful Up! service close just one year into a three year agreement with the county council.

Based at Pointon House, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Up! provides support for 24 people, along with accommodation for its most vulnerable customers, and employs nine staff.

It was planning a first birthday celebration for service users when the closure plans were unveiled.

Up! Is run by Stoke based charity Arch which has now written to all county councillors calling for the decision to be overturned.

Expressing his support for Up!, Mr Farrelly said: “The Up! Project is helping vulnerable Newcastle residents and, the service it provides, saves local and national government thousands of pounds a year by preventing the escalation of mental health problems which, if not tackled early enough, can lead to hospital admission and the need for long term support.

“I shall be writing to Staffordshire County Council in support of Up! and to ask for an explanation as to how the service can be cut just one year into a three year contract especially when there appears to be no comparable alternative in place for the people it supports.

“This is a savage and cruel cut and I believe Up! should be reinstated.”

Arch, part of the Staffordshire Housing Group, has provided evidence to the county council to show how the services contracted to them will save several million pounds to the general public purse over the next 12 months compared with the £460,000 they will save through their proposed cuts and closures.

It is also protesting about the decision to cut services before a consultation process – that had proposed a 50 per cent funding cut for Up! – had been completed.

Barry Pitts, Group Director at Arch, said: “We will work tirelessly to save Up! and the vital service it provides.

“Cllr Alan White, the Cabinet member responsible for these cutbacks, has stated they come as a result of a review of historic services.

“How can a service that was commissioned by the county council 12 months ago on a three year contract be seen as historic? We have presented evidence of the value of Up! in helping to prevent people’s mental health issues from escalating. The early intervention provided by Up! staff help keep people out of hospital and long term care saving taxpayers many thousands of pounds.

“We thank Paul Farrelly MP for his support and call for the unjust closure decision to be revoked.”

Karen’s story:

“I was living in a hostel. I wasn’t getting much support and I was falling back into drinking and getting into trouble by the police,” said Karen, aged 37.

“I was at rock bottom when I came to Up!; I was in a lost world with my mental health.”

“Up! staff just spent time with me and let me talk when I was ready. With their help and support I managed to come through my alcohol problems and I didn’t need to go to detox.”

As she regained her confidence, Karen began to mix with people at Pointon House. She felt confident enough to pursue interests such as cake decorating and art and then felt able to attend a two-week creative writing course at the New Vic Theatre.

A year on and Karen is taking a course in independent living which will allow her to move out of Pointon House.

Karen is off probation for the first time in over 10 years and is now in contact with her adult daughter, who was adopted, and her granddaughter.

Notes to Editors:

Arch, which is part of the Staffordshire Housing Group, works with some of the most vulnerable people in society, providing support services for people experiencing domestic violence, poor mental wellbeing, substance misuse or homelessness.

Based in Stoke on Trent with homes and services throughout Staffordshire and East Cheshire, the Staffordshire Housing Group comprises Staffordshire Housing Association, Arch, Blue Mountain and Revival Home Improvement Agency. The group is dedicated to creating opportunities and changing lives by providing high quality homes and services to a diverse range of people.

Parent company Staffordshire Housing Association owns and manages around 3,000 homes for rent and sale, and also delivers regeneration and housing development.

Revival, the group’s home improvement agency, works with older and vulnerable people to maintain their properties, help them return home from hospital, adapt their homes to suit their health needs and maintain their independence.

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