Devoted to helping

I WRITE in response to the article in last week’s County Times on the Strawford Centre in Horsham.

I would like to clarify for readers that West Sussex County Council is looking to provide services for adults with learning difficulties in a better way by providing more freedom of choice and enabling them to integrate more fully into their local communities.

I would personally like to pay tribute to staff at all our day centres for adults with learning difficulties, including the Strawford Centre, for the very professional way they are reshaping services in response to different needs.

It is unfortunate when readers only see negative and inaccurate media reporting of the changes rather than hearing about how hard our staff work and seeing the positive impact they have on so many people’s lives.

People with a learning difficulty want and deserve the same chances and choices as everyone else. For many of them, attending a traditional day service setting does not do it for them.

This is not just about cuts. This is about reproviding services to meet the wide and varied needs of people, some of whom need high levels of support, and others who are able to be more independent. One size does not fit all.

We have provided many new services, such as My Network and My Network Plus, which provide information and guidance to adults with learning difficulties whose needs are not so great that they need regular social care.

We have also just launched the ‘Safe Places’ scheme in Horsham, which identifies places to go in the town for anyone with a learning difficulty when they feel threatened or unsafe. Already many shops and businesses have signed up to join the scheme and I am grateful for their support.

And the Horizons Group aims to help residents join in with the community and become more independent.

Our day centres, like the Strawford Centre, continue to provide support and a safe place to meet for those with high level needs.

Our staff are incredibly professional and they care. They have devoted their careers to helping vulnerable adults. They have my support and thanks for all that they do.

KIERAN STIGANT

Chief executive,

West Sussex County Council

County Hall, Chichester