Dad tells of despair as vital centre faces axe

WORRIED: Manoj Majhi's daughter Amy relies on Maplewood respite centre, which faces an uncertain future
WORRIED: Manoj Majhi's daughter Amy relies on Maplewood respite centre, which faces an uncertain future
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A desperate dad has joined calls to save a host of under-threat respite care homes for severely disabled children.

Manoj Majhi, 47, who campaigned to save Maplewood House in Bamber Bridge, in 2006, fears “the writing is already on the wall” as the axe once again hangs over the centre and seven others.

At least one will close during the next 12 months, after county council chiefs said they needed to slash £3m off the budget for children’s respite care over the next four years.

Mr Majhi, whose 14-year-old daughter Amy has used Maplewood for seven years, said the unit was “irreplaceable” and said closure would lead to the breakdown of families across the county.

He said: “There is a lot of fear and anxiety among the parents about exactly what the council is proposing. Nobody knows where they stand.

“In 2006 we had to fight to keep it open, but we were given the chance to fight. This time, it feels like a closed conversation, nobody is giving us a straight answer and nobody seems to want to listen to our questions.

“To me, it makes a mockery of the council’s own motto ‘every child matters’. What about our children?

“As carers we already save the taxpayer millions of pounds a year by not having our children in full-time care.

“The services we receive are a drop in the ocean, but they make such a difference – they give families a much needed break.”

Amy, who has severe learning difficulties ,which limit her communication and mobility, is one of 179 children who regularly access overnight respite services.

Other centres facing possible closure are: The Bungalow in Fulwood, Long Copse in Chorley and others in Lancaster, Morecambe, Ormskirk, Burnley, and Oswaldtwistle.

According to County Hall bosses, the centres are currently only running at 80 per cent occupancy.

A final proposal will be brought before the council later this month, followed by a formal consultation.