On Friday 16th July, local MP Stephen O'Brien held a meeting in Tattenhall to discuss the day care issue across Cheshire – much covered recently on Audlem Online.
He had invited Age Concern Cheshire, Councilors, many Parish Councils, volunteers, day centre users and families to discuss the closure of day centres across East and West Cheshire and seek a way forward to continue running the day centres, and to challenge Age Concern Cheshire's decision to end their support.
Unfortunately, apart from a consultant, there was no representation at the meeting by Age Concern Cheshire. Neither was there anyone from Cheshire East Council, other than Rachel Bailey in her capacity as our local Councilor.
Cathy Reynolds, the consultant employed by Age Concern to advise and help community groups to establish day centres did speak at the meeting. It transpired that the help she is to provide only applies to communities in Cheshire West and Chester – not Cheshire East! This was straight from the lady's mouth. She is employed as a consultant and it was implied that she would be prepared to help people in East Cheshire – although there would be a fee to pay.
Audlem representatives argued that it was important that funding paid presently to Age Concern be diverted to villages such as Audlem so they could run the service in the future.
The whole meeting saw some 50 – 60 people – 100% – seeking to continue the day centres as they are such an important part of elderly people's lives. Councilor Bailey promised that she would take up the group's feelings with Cheshire East.
As for the cost of this important service, it was alleged that if Cheshire East was to abandon the day centre scheme, it will result in a saving of just £5,735.
It was also said that the daycare is provided with the help of 450 volunteers. Having met a few at the meeting, with their ages covering a very wide range, you could not wish to meet such tremendous and beautiful ladies. I cannot wait to be old enough to attend!
The meeting closed with the approval of a mandate for our MP to pursue the matter on our behalf. A petition is also to be placed in the various shops around the village which Stephen O'Brien will use in the House of Commons.
More tomorrow on the work so far in Audlem to save the day care at Thornton House.
Celia Bloor adds: "Audlem was represented by Parish Councillor Mike Hill and Ward Councillor Rachel Bailey (who both made points) plus some of our volunteers.
"The case for keeping the day care centres was strongly made, particularly that however long decrepitude may be put off, in the end many of us will be glad of a safe friendly familiar place to meet.
"West Cheshire and Chester Social Services commissioning were represented but not East. I was surprised to hear from Cathy Reynolds that she had only been commissioned to help communities in the West – my letters from Age Concern Cheshire don't tell me this. However Rachel Bailey was on the job and got her contact details.
"A telling point was made that the WHOLE of day care in Cheshire West costs about the same as ONE primary school per year. With an increasingly elderly population, perhaps priorities should be looked at."
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