Parents fears as doors to Fife support centre for adults with disabilities remain closed

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Worried parents of service users at Kirkcaldy’s St Clair Centre say they are still waiting to hear when the venue will re-open after lockdown.

And, despite re-assurances, some still fear it will shut for good.

The centre provides a community support service to adults in Kirkcaldy from 16-65 with learning or physical disabilities, sensory impairments, autistic spectrum disorders and other related issues.

Parents who use it say they have nowhere else to go.

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Marlene and Karen outside the St Clair Centre in Kirkcaldy (Pic: Scott Louden)Marlene and Karen outside the St Clair Centre in Kirkcaldy (Pic: Scott Louden)
Marlene and Karen outside the St Clair Centre in Kirkcaldy (Pic: Scott Louden)

Last November, Fife Health & Social Care Partnership quashed fears that the doors would shut.

But those concerns have resurfaced as many other services have returned to normal operations.

The St Clair Centre has been closed to users since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Marlene Hurles, who’s daughter Karen attends it, said: “I have been in contact with the management of the centre throughout, and I’m now being told that its future is now up for discussion.

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"If it reaches the conclusion that the centre will close for good, our children will have nowhere to go!

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"There have been several changes made inside the building with areas previously used for group activities converted into offices.

“When I ask about it opening again for social group activities, which our children thrive on, I have had no definite answer apart from that the centre may be used in the future for toilet purposes when our children are engaged in community activities.

"Reading between the lines I suspect Fife Health and Social Care Partnership is planning on closing the building to service users and re-purposing it as a training centre with offices for staff.”

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Marlene said that her daughter is now supported in the community, but it is far from ideal as she doesn’t get to connect and socialise with the many friends she has made at the centre.

"It has been a social centre for adults with learning disabilities for 35 years, where users can meet their friends and take part in meaningful and engaging activities,” she said.

"Karen is being supported in the community, but a trip to McDonald's or a charity shop is hardly stimulating or much fun.

"I want answers, I want to know if and when the centre will re-open for group activities – I fear that when COVID came along Fife Council and Fife Health and Social Care Partnership saw a perfect opportunity to close the doors for good.”

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A spokesperson for the partnership said services “were being re-mobilised.”

She added: “During the course of the pandemic Fife Community Support Services has not been using the St Clair Centre to provide a service to individuals.

“As a direct alternative, and as a means of ensuring infection prevention and control measures were fully in place, it continued to provide support to individuals and families who were identified as being in critical need, from their homes, to reduce the risks to the most vulnerable people the service supports.

We are currently remobilising our services, including the use of the St Clair Centre.

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“Visits to and use of the building will be carefully planned and considered to ensure that on-going safety measures and controls can be maintained for those who need to use the specialist facilities and we will continue to communicate with our service users and families to ensure they are fully informed of plans at the earliest opportunity.”

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