Service users go to Downing Street to stop the axing of Birmingham’s only community mental health service

Service users go to Downing Street to stop the axing of Birmingham

Mental health service users at Omincare Community Care Ltd are set to take a 500 strong petition to Downing Street, in a bid to avert plans by Birmingham City Council to shut down the only surviving community based service in the city.

This latest move comes at the end of a two year battle with the local authority to keep the only black led service from being forced to shut its doors and turfing out over 120 black service users onto the street.

Black Mental Health UK have been standing with the community centre since they were first threatened with closures in 2008.

Earlier this year, the community service secured a stay of execution after lawyers acting on behalf of the service users won an unprecedented legal victory, as Birmihgham City councils failure to conduct a Race Equality Impact Assessment on their decision to axe services caused them to fall foul of the law. Despite Omincare’s win the organisation received a notice from the council saying that no further funding will be made available after September this year, jeopardising the future of the 26 year old organisation.
The impact of this two year battle on both staff and clients has also taken its toll.

‘There is a real danger that a lot of the good work of Omincare will be undone if our support services are forced to close. The treatment of Omincare has been appalling, the local Obmudmans advised us to take legal action against the council saying that the way we have been treated is tantamount to maladministration.
But given the pressures that we are facing we want to spend all our energies on keep people well, rather than taking our local government to court,’ Jackie Maclean manager at Omincare Services Ltd said.

‘For a decision to be made to axe well run and much needed services serving a community who are over represented within mental health settings raises questions about the judgement of those responsible for procuring services in this area.

It is more expensive to treat people in crisis than to pay for community services that keep people well and assist in their reintegration back into society. This is a very sad state of affairs, I am hoping that the services user trip to Downing Street to will give this issue more public attention and stop the closure,’ Matilda MacAttram director of Black Mental Health UK said.

‘When we were given the news of the removal of the Supporting People funding and the decommissioning of the centre, a number of clients became ill and started relapsing. These are people who had remained well for many years and were improving their lives,’ service use and group administrator Jacqueline Forrester said.

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