Goldhay Arts the centre that supports adults with learning disabilities has learned that its finances are in deficit to the tune of forty four thousand pounds. Without some additional help it could close. Sarah Burckitt from Goldhay Arts talks to the BBC’s Andy Gall. This interview was broadcast at 08:20 on Wednesday 28th April 2010 in the Paul Stainton Breakfast Show on BBC Radio Peterborough.
ANDY: Eight twenty one now. Good morning. A Peterborough charity is under threat of closing down because of lack of funding. Goldhay Arts helps adults with learning disabilities with socialising and learning new skills. Bev from Peterborough has a daughter with Downs Syndrome who attends the group, and she was devastated by the news.
BEV: (TAPE) It’s my lifeline. That’s the only break I get from Emily, three days a week when she is at Goldhay. And all her friends, it’s social, she has more of a social life than I do. But at least I get a break. For those three days that she comes here I have time to myself. When you have a handicapped child it’s a twenty four seven mental thing. But here I don’t have to worry, because they treat her exactly as I do.
ANDY: (LIVE) we hear about the importance of these respite centres time and time again for carers. And Sarah Burckitt is from the group, from Goldhay Arts, and joins us now. Good morning Sarah.
SARAH: Good morning.
ANDY: Obviously you’ll know Bev very well indeed.
SARAH: I do know Bev, yes, and her daughter Emily. Emily is actually friends with my big sister Lesley-Anne.
ANDY: So what’s going to happen to these people? It’s going to be, not to sensationalise it too much but, devastating.
SARAH: It will be. A few months ago, well almost a year ago, one of the actual members of staff died, and all the members had to be treated for depression. So you can imagine what’s going to happen when the whole centre closes down, and they get all their members of staff taken away from them, and all their friends taken away from them.
ANDY: So politically explain to us why a centre which is providing such a useful service is being shut down.
SARAH: Basically Goldhay does get funding from the Primary Care Trust. And it gets funding from what’s called the Access Team. But over the years costs have gone up and basically we’ve got a forty four thousand pound deficit. We can’t seem to get help with that from anybody. And we were notified two weeks ago that the Centre would be closing at the end of June.
ANDY: How have you developed a deficit? How much were you getting .. receiving a year? Was it about eighty thousand?
SARAH: It was eighty thousand from the Primary Care Trust, and then there was a top-up on top of that from the Access Team. So in total it was about a hundred and twenty seven thousand pounds a year.
ANDY: So your running costs .. so clearly in the budgeting something’s gone wrong there. Because you can’t be losing what is it forty thousand pounds a year.
SARAH: Forty four thousand. Basically the costs have gone up. They’ve had to move from one site to another, that’s rent increase. Everything’s gone up, as you know. The credit crunch has bitten and everything has gone up. And there’s been no increase from the Primary Care Trust. So we’ve been given the same amount of money for the last few years. And they’re refusing to increase it.
ANDY: Are there any other avenues that you can look down for funding?
SARAH: We are trying at the moment, but having only been notified two weeks ago that there is this deficit, then we’ve had very little time. The families have had very very little time to be able to look into that funding. If we’d been advised twelve months ago when they knew they were going to be in trouble then there would have been a lot more we could have done.
ANDY: OK. So you think that the Primary Care Trust hasn’t been open and honest with you?
SARAH: Well no, we think it’s the Board of Trustees haven’t been honest with us, with the families. It’s they who haven’t advised us that there is going to be a deficit, and that this could put Goldhay in trouble.
ANDY: NHS Peterborough have a very large debt themselves. Can you understand why they can’t give you higher amounts of cash?
SARAH: We can undertand, but at the same time it’s going to cost them more in the long run to actually do other things with the members, than it would be to keep Goldhay open.
ANDY: So for example, what would happen to Bev, then if this closes down? Does Bev then lean on another part of the infrastructure?
SARAH: There are no other places.
ANDY: There’s nowhere else?
SARAH: We haven’t been advised .. as of the thirtieth of June, we haven’t been advised of any places that any of the members can go.
ANDY: So you’re the only option for these people for respite care.
SARAH: Yes. And it is the only service of its kind in this area. It’s the only one that offers arts, drama and music for these people.
ANDY: So where can people go to show some support then? Because clearly this is something that you want the community to get together and try and stop them from folding.
SARAH: We do. There is a Facebook group called save Goldhay Arts from closing down. We’re going to hopefully start fundraising for the group as well. There is a meeting in fact today regarding where we will know definitely whether the Primary Care Trust can give us any more money. So really it all starts today in earnest.
ANDY: We’ve got a Facebook. And we’ll put a link on our Facebook to go to that.
SARAH: That’s brilliant.
ANDY: So it’s called save Goldhay ..
SARAH: .. Arts from closing down.
ANDY: Right. OK. Well look all the best for this. Because hearing the piece from Bev earlier before we spoke to you, you don’t have to be a genius to realise just how important this is to people within the community. So Sarah we do hope for all the best. And who knows, somebody who may have been listening this morning may be able to help as well. Let’s hope so.
SARAH: Fingers crossed.
ANDY: Please do keep in touch with us. That’s Sarah Burckitt from the group. Now we did invite NHS Peterborough on to comment on this story but due to the pending election they were unable to comment. However they did say that “enabling inclusion for those with a learning disability is part of our strategic plan.” They went on to say that “in line with our normal contract review processes we will review services for people with learning disabilities, the review funding allocation based on this and based on need.” OK. That’s what we heard from NHS Peterborough.
Facebook link: Save Goldhay Arts from Closing down.