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Homes fears for locals

PUBLISHED: 10:51 25 April 2008 | UPDATED: 20:13 05 July 2010

SOME of the most vulnerable people in the Lowestoft area are having to leave their homes as part of a government scheme to improve their lives and give them more independence.

SOME of the most vulnerable people in the Lowestoft area are having to leave their homes as part of a government scheme to improve their lives and give them more independence.

People with learning difficulties living at the Lothingland Community Unit, at Oulton, have been given a deadline of June 2010 to be relocated.

Last week health professionals and representatives of Suffolk and Norfolk social services met with the parents and carers of those at the unit to explain the situation.

Following the meeting, held at the Water Lane Sports Centre, in Lowestoft, a number of parents contacted The Journal to voice their concerns.

Jim Warren, of Oulton Broad, has a son living at the unit and he fears for the future.

“It cannot be right that a group of people who are unable to fend for themselves should be evicted from their homes.

“The Lothingland residents are a group of people with learning difficulties. At present they live in relatively new, purpose-built bungalows, designed to cater for their needs,” he said.

“They have a high level of care from an experienced and dedicated staff and benefit from the close resident-staff relationships which have been built up over the years. These relationships, of course, will be broken up in the proposed move,” said Mr Warren.

Mr Warren, along with other parents and carers, had hoped to learn more about the move at the meeting but was left disappointed.

“It became clear to many of us that a lot of hopes about the future were being expressed but there were very few concrete details about major issues including suitable local housing and the costs involved. This has led me to believe that the level of housing and care now being achieved at Lothingland will be diminished in order to meet the target date of June 2010,” he said.

“In the not so distant past the residents of Lothingland were promised homes for life. This is now not to be. The present system works very well - if it's not broken, why fix it?” said Mr Warren.

Graham Newman, Suffolk County Council's portfolio holder for adult and community services, said he has sympathy for the concerns being expressed.

“I do understand and sympathise with people's concern about moving from a familiar and well-supported situation,” he said.

“However, I'm sure that this is the right thing to do. People with learning disabilities, like the rest of us, should have the greatest possible independence and control over their own lives. Living as a tenant in your own home, with the support you need on hand is a major step in that direction.”

He added: “I hope I can reassure all those involved that all the care and support they need will be provided in their new home.

“Council staff have begun to work closely with the people at Lothingland and their families to make the moves as positive and stress-free as possible.”

The changes are a Government requirement and must be achieved by 2010.

Do you have someone who will be affected by the changes? If so write to The Journal, 147 London Road North, Lowestoft, NR32 1NB, or email david.lennard@archant.co.uk

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