I wanted my colleagues to see for themselves the services we were putting in place to replace the Queen Elizabeth Resource Centre in Dartford. We’re decommissioning the existing day centre service from October, and officers are busy making sure that services are replaced in the communities of Dartford, Swanley and Gravesham.
It was invaluable to walk round the various day centres, community buildings and leisure centre with Christine – being hearing impaired herself, she has an eagle eye for disability access. A tough critic, she pointed out narrow doorways, steep ramps, too-small disabled toilets, lack of hearing loops and a range of other issues – all of which we put on the list for attention.
Of course there’s always a huge amount of apprehension when services move from one location to another, and a deep-seated suspicion from service users that somehow we’re “only doing this to save money” – that their new facilities either won’t exist or won’t be as good.
But as we move into the brave new world of personalised and community-based services, I can honestly say the new services in Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley will provide more choice, better locations and closer to home for hundreds of people, young and old with disabilities.