Plans to change a training centre for learning disabled adults in Linby have been blasted as ‘misguided, inhumane, cruel and destructive’.
Nottinghamshire County Council (NCC) wants the 64 people who attend Brooke Farm in Linby, and units in Skegby and Balderton, to undertake a two-year training programme that will ‘fit them for employment or voluntary opportunities’.
Around 16 sets of parents and carers say the move has already caused ‘a huge amount of worry and stress’ and will ‘set people up to fail’, pressuring them into taking unsuitable jobs or be abandoned.
Geoffrey Garrod, of Mansfield, whose 37-year-old son James has attended Brooke Farm for 18 years, said: “If my son has to leave Brooke farm it will break his heart, he has been exceedingly happy there. It would more than likely lead to his health and happiness suffering badly.”
The move was, he said, “completely misguided, inhumane, cruel and destructive to the lives of the learning disabled adults and their families and carers, the very people that NCC says it wants to help.”
Mr Garrod said the closures of the Remploy factories and Sherwood Industries, as well as the competitive jobs market, would leave ‘the majority of the people being left to be reassessed by the DWP, thrown off any benefits they are on and just thrown onto the dole’.
And he believes the money NCC claims would be saved by the move would create additional financial stress further down the line. He added: “If anything this just proves the service already in existence should be enlarged not reduced. This is no reflection on the efforts of the staff at Brooke farm - they are bringing our disabled people along at the best pace that could possibly be achieved. I believe NCC has a legal duty to protect disabled people placed in their care - not just throw them out.”
Councillor Muriel Weisz, chairman of Nottinghamshire County Council’s Adult Social Care and Health Committee, said: “Providing care and support to the most vulnerable in Nottinghamshire is a priority for this council.
“For this reason, we are proposing to invest money to expand what we currently offer at Brooke Farm, including £62,000 on two training coordinators to develop further trainees’ skills.
“The Council wants more people with disabilities to benefit from Brooke Farm and the new proposal will mean greater scope for more people with disabilities to use the service.
“We are keen to bring the success we’ve had with our i-Work employment scheme to the farm and develop it into a training hub - 129 residents with disabilities secured employment opportunities thanks to this project since last April.
“Alongside offering training opportunities, the farm will also help to develop people’s independent living skills.
“We are still consulting on the proposals with families and will be meeting trainees and their families before a decision has been made.
“After listening to the concerns being raised, we would like to reassure all trainees that at the end of their two-year programme we will look at the next steps taking full account of their needs and wishes.”