Families in fight to save respite centre

Eden Park children's respite centre, Cupar.

Eden Park children's respite centre, Cupar.

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FAMILIES who rely on the Eden Park children’s respite centre have vowed to fight its closure tooth and nail.

It was announced two weeks ago that the Cupar residential unit would be shutting down to save Fife Council £100,000.

But parents of children with disabilities who benefit from the ‘invaluable’ centre have hit out at plans to move to a home-based respite service.

Deborah Dalli’s son Thomas (14) has autism and ADHD and has spent dozens of happy weekends at Eden Park.

Mrs Dalli, from Cupar, told the Fife Herald: “Thomas has been going there for the past eight years, since he was six, and considers it to be his second home.

“As a single mum of a child with a disability, I rely on Eden Park as it provides me with a much needed chance to recharge my batteries. It is my respite too.”

Eden Park caters for up to 18 young people aged between four and 19 with conditions ranging from autism and ADHD to epilepsy and Tourette’s.

They visit the centre at weekends in groups of two or three, giving their parents or other carers welcome time off.

The building, which sits behind North Eden House care home, also hosts a week-long residential break in the summer.

Cupar couple Peter and Kirsty Jackson, whose son attends the centre, said: “We believe this action by the council is a disgrace and an insult to the staff and families that use the facility.

“Our autistic son uses Eden Park regularly and its staff and the service are invaluable.

“The centre affords not only my son respite but us as parents respite at home too.”

BENEFIT

They went on: “We believe this is a step back in terms of inclusion for our son.

“The centre allows our son to interact with other children in a safe environment that he would otherwise not be afforded.

“My understanding is that the council would be looking at ways to provide home-based respite — how would this benefit the parents?

“We can’t afford to go away for weekends in this financially challenging period and we certainly wouldn’t be happy to allow a stranger to stay at our home.

“We are strongly opposed to this proposal and will fight the decision with gusto.”

Mr and Mrs Jackson have also set up an online petition opposing the closure, a link to which can be found on the Fife Herald’s Facebook page.

David Wright, Fife Council’s service manager for children and families, vowed that the local authority would continue to provide a high-quality respite service.

He added: “All parents and staff involved in Eden Park respite service have been personally contacted to inform them of the council decision to reduce funding to the centre.

“Over the next few months we will be looking at different options for delivering care to families to ensure a variety of services, ranging from residential respite placements to home-based respite, that meet the needs of each individual young person.”

Staff and parents only found out about the closure decision through the Fife Herald.