Day service at Hebburn centre set to be moved

The Father James Walsh Centre, Hebburn
The Father James Walsh Centre, Hebburn

A South Tyneside carer is calling on council chiefs to be more open and honest about cuts to services as a day centre in South Tyneside gets set for closure.

The woman, from South Shields, who does not wish to be named, says she was offered a place at Father James Walsh Centre in Hebburn for a family member - but was then told the place was unavailable due to a relocation of the service.

Father James Walsh Centre, Hedgley Road, Hebburn

Father James Walsh Centre, Hedgley Road, Hebburn

It is understood the venue is to close in June.

The council says the number of people using the centre in Hedgeley Road, Hebburn, has dropped in recent years, and talks are now underway between staff, unions and service users

An email from a council official, seen by the Gazette, states: “I can confirm a decision has been taken to close Father James Walsh Centre.

“Staff are currently working to finalise the timetable for the closure, but we would expect this to be the end of June.”

Coun Tracey Dixon.

Coun Tracey Dixon.

The carer said: “I can’t fault the staff at the centre. They have been fantastic, and I got the impression they are also being kept in the dark.

“There just seems to be a lack of communication between senior managers at the council, the staff and people looking to use the service.

“We were offered a place, then were told it was going to close. When I queried about where the service would be moving to, no one seemed to know.

“After a lot of calls, I was eventually told it’ll close in June, but there was still no answer as to where people would be going.”

She added: “How can people make informed choices without the right information? Surely, if you are going to close a centre in three months you would know what is happening and where service users would be going.

”People appear to be being kept in the dark. Some of the staff I spoke to didn’t even know it was closing.

“You shouldn’t have to fight to find out information, that should be forthcoming.”

The council previously revealed from next Spring, there would be an expansion of day services offered from Jarrow Hub, which is set to receive a £3million pound makeover.

Council chiefs are also working with the management committee of Ocean Road Community Association, South Shields, to develop the centre and create a base for day services and Hebburn Central and Haven Court could also be used.

Coun Tracey Dixon, lead member for independence and wellbeing at South Tyneside Council, said: “We have been working closely with our service users, their families and carers who use our services and undertaken extensive consultation on the changes to them.

“This has included the personalised review of individuals’ needs with dedicated social workers to support them.

“We recognise how important these services are to those who need them and are committed to protecting them for the future.”

She added: “Overwhelmingly service users have told us that it is the connection to people rather than place which they value the most.

“It is this aspect which has driven the way we have reshaped our day services.

“Discussions with trade unions, staff and service users are ongoing and no final timeline for relocating day services has been set. We will continue the dialogue with all parties affected and update as we move through the process.”

She added: “We continue to face Government funding cutbacks but this is not about reducing services. It is about sustaining them in a different and better way and making best use of the funds we have.

“By reducing the number of buildings we currently have, we can invest in modern facilities which are more sustainable for the future and connect people within their community.”