Posted: Thu 18th Apr 2024

Six Charities Call for Clarity on Building Adaptations for People with Learning Disabilities in Abergavenny /

SIX charities have penned a letter calling for clarity on when a promised base for people with learning disabilities will be available for use. 
People with learning disabilities in Abergavenny have been able to attend at the town’s former Tourist Information Centre, known as the Well Being Hub, since December last year when it became an interim base for the My Day, My Life support service. 
However campaigners say the building isn’t accessible for all service users – and have called on Monmouthshire County Council to provide clarity on when promised adaptations will be made to the town’s Melville Arts Centre after the council agreed it should be the permanent home for the support service. 
The letter, sent to all 46 county councillors, calls on them to consider the accessibility of the Melville Centre as the authors say they had previously recognised it is “largely inaccessible and far from ideal”. 
The letter adds its authors understand there is no agreed timetable for the adaptations and state: “The users of My Day My Life should never have been expected to be happy with two inaccessible spaces for any period of time – let alone an indeterminate period of time.” 
It calls on councillors “to think seriously about the impact on people with a learning disability” and to “consult with families and service users what constitutes a meaningful level of accessibility; as we know, it’s not just ramps and wide doors that make a space inclusive.” 
The letter has been signed by directors of leading disability charities including Mencap Cymru, Learning Disability Wales, charities that advocate for people with learning disabilities and their parents and carers as well as local campaigners, including health professionals, and Abergavenny-based Professor David Abbot of the Norah Fry Centre for Disability Studies at the University of Bristol, which is regarded as a national centre of excellence. 
My Day, My Life had been left without a permanent base to provide support from, and for users to meet together socially, since its former home, the Tudor Centre, closed at the start of the Covid pandemic in 2020. 
In November 2022 the closure was to be made permanent but sparked a long running campaign to reopen the building. 
Last November Monmouthshire’s Labour-led cabinet agreed the Melville Centre should become the permanent base for My Day, My Life.
The decision was ratified by the full council, in December, and it was stated £150,000 from the UK Government Shared Prosperity Fund is available to make improvements including a resurfaced car park and accessible toilet. 
It was also stated that the works would take 12 to 16 weeks to complete. 
Llanelly Hill independent councillor Simon Howarth is due to ask at Monmouthshire’s full council meeting on Thurday, April 18 when work is due to start at the Meliville, and when it is expected to be completed. He will aslo ask for an update on support the council has provided to a group named The Gathering, which is also meeting at the Well Being Hub. 
It was formed from campaigners who wanted the Tudor Centre reopened and the council had agreed no final decision on that building would be made, until April, to give The Gathering time to put a business plan together with the possibility of it taking on the building as a base to provide support to a wider range of vulnerable adults. 
The letter has been signed by Wayne Crocker director of Mencap Cymru; Kate Young, director of the All Wales Forum for parents and carers of people with learning disabilities; Zoe Richards, the chief executive officer of Learning Disability Wales; Julian Hallett of the Downs Syndrome Association; Joe Powell, chief executive officer of All Wales People First which advocates for those with learning disabilities and Monmouthshire People First. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

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