May 20 2013 Latest news:
Sara Odeen-Isbister , Senior Reporter
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Angry residents have staged a demonstration against a lack of services for young adults with learning difficulties in Barking and Dagenham.
Fourteen people, mostly parents and friends of teenagers with special needs, spent Monday morning protesting outside Dagenham Civic Centre.
They claim Barking and Dagenham offers virtually no day-time activities or support specifically for young adults after they leave school.
Ruth McIntosh, whose 17-year-old son Robert Rowell attends Trinity Special School, in Heathway, said: “There are a couple of day centres for adults with disabilities, but most of the people who go there are a lot older. They aren’t suitable for someone in their late teens or early twenties.”
Ms McIntosh, of Uplands Road, Marks Gate, said the support and facilities for children with special needs is “fantastic” but feels post-school youngsters become “invisible”.
She told the Post: “When they leave school, everyone seems to forget about them My son has got a couple of years left at Trinity and then what’s he supposed to do? He has the mental age of a seven-year-old so won’t be able to work, but I don’t want him to sit at home watching telly all day either.”
Dagenham disability charity DABD, which runs an evening and weekend club for teenagers and young adults with disabilities called Ab Phab, says that it would like to offer more daytime activities.
Josy Hughes, young people’s manager at DABD, said: “We are looking into it, but the problem that we face is funding.
“Adults with disabilities now receive a personal budget, so they have more control over their support and care. This means the money doesn’t go directly to the council or charities, so really we need families to get together to let us know what they want and what they’re prepared to spend.”
A council spokesman said the authority has set up a programme called Fulfilling Lives to look at how it can develop a range of activities and services aimed at people of all ages with learning disabilities.
She added: “We recognise that there are more young people with learning disabilities entering adult services and that often they would like to choose something different to traditional day services.
“The aim is therefore to develop a range of services which offer people different opportunities, including the opportunity to become more independent.”