Socialist Worker

The hidden cuts that put vulnerable people at risk

by Dave Sewell
Published Tue 26 Feb 2013
Issue No. 2342


Tory cuts are slashing adult social care services that people with mental health problems rely upon.

They are having a devastating affect on some of the most vulnerable people.

Salford council in Greater Manchester closed its drop-in centre at Cromwell House last October.

Within weeks of the closure, two of those who had used the centre had tried to kill themselves.

Steve Cullen used the centre when it was open.

“It was supposed to reopen at Christmas,” he told Socialist Worker. “Then that became January, then February, then March.”

The council offered people a much smaller space in an area shared with other groups. But the drop in centre was vital for people who would otherwise be isolated.

“The drop-in changed my life,” one person told the Salford Star.

“If it was to close I don’t know what I’d do.”

Another said that support from others at the centre “kept me alive at times when I felt that I couldn’t cope with my illness”.

Steve explained, “A lot of people rely on the centres as a way of mixing with other people. It’s a safety net, with people they can trust.

Judged

“We could go there for a coffee, a talk, a sit in the garden, to be with like-minded individuals without being judged.”

Last week, Patrick, who used the centre, was found dead after jumping off a bridge.

He had gone into Cromwell House to ask when the drop-in centre would reopen and was told that it might never reopen in the same space.

“We noticed people becoming more unstable,” said Steve.

It’s impossible to say what would have happened to Patrick if the centre had stayed open.

But fellow drop-in user Susan Wright believes the centre was helping him.

“He was very quiet and very private,” she told Socialist Worker. “But at the drop-in he was just starting to open up and develop friendship bonds”

“Without a doubt the cuts are responsible,” added Steve.

Support groups have repeatedly warned that cuts to mental health care would increase suicides.

There has been resistance across Britain. Protesters targeted Plymouth council last week as it prepared to close and sell off care centres.

In Leicester, people shouted “shame” from the town hall’s public gallery as councillors slashed

£4 ­million from adult social care.

The Tories and councils know that people with mental health problems are often invisible.

They hope this will allow them to get away with their cuts.

But as Steve put it, “You can’t put a price on a person’s life.”


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Tue 26 Feb 2013, 16:52 GMT
Issue No. 2342
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