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Ealing Council is to review plans to close a mental care drop-in centre after the death of one of its members.

The Solace Centre in Bowman's Close, West Ealing has been running for 16 years and been described as  a 'lifeline' for many people with metal health problems.

In November, Ealing Council announced it has to cut its budget by £96m in the next four years, shutting the Solace Centre was on a list of proposals.

Comedian Jo Brand - a former psychiatric nurse - is among more than 1,600 people who have signed a petition condemning the plans. She warned that the threat of closure was adding to “fears and anxiety” of those who used the centre.

Last week a man died after being hit by a train at Ealing Broadway Station. It's been revealed that he was a client at Solace.

Conservative Councillor, Mark Reen : '' We are all shocked an saddened I am sure by the news of the recent death of a long-standing member of the Solace community centre in West Ealing. Our thoughts go to his friends and family at what must be a difficult time and in particular the people at the Solace Centre who knew him well.

''This death should make us all pause with regards to plans that the Labour council has to close the Solace Centre - as we have pointed out on a number of occasions the group being looked after by the Solace Centre are more vulnerable than the Councils own needs criteria would have people believe and they are also unlikely to receive the personal budgets as the council claim.

'' It is time for the Council to withdraw the plans entirely and recognise the value that this facility provides for people with enduring mental illness. We ask the Labour council to not just simply withdraw the item from the Cabinet agenda next week but to scrap wholesale the plans to close the Solace Centre entirely.''

Lib Dem Councillor, Jon Ball said: '' While it is too early to know what may have led to this tragedy, this underlines the importance of ensuring that the Solace Centre, is kept open to provide its 365-day a year support for local residents.''

Councillor Hitesh Tailor, cabinet member for health and adults services, said:

“My heartfelt sympathies go out to the gentleman's family and friends at this very difficult time. It’s not known why he took his own life and there will now be an independent investigation.

“We have listened carefully during our consultation on the proposed closure of the Solace Centre. It was always our intention to work with local groups and users to work up alternative ways to continue the service and some interesting suggestions have been made that still achieve the required savings. We will be developing these further over the next few months, discussing it with the users of the centre, and will come back to cabinet with further proposals to consider.

“Our priority continues to be the wellbeing of users of the centre and we have been providing additional support over the past few days.”

The plan to shut Solace had been due to go before cabinet for approval next week - but the council now say :

''In light of the new proposals that came out of the consultation process, it isn't ready to go to cabinet yet. Officers are now developing these proposals and more options will go to cabinet in the near future.''



13th January 2015 Bookmark and Share