Ability Centre saved – now bring on more members

Disabled campaigners fighting to save Gala’s Ability Centre, the Borders’ only centre for the physically disabled, celebrated triumph last week.

And now their next mission is to recruit new members, an “absolutely overjoyed” Isobel Ness from Darnick told The Southern.

“I could hardly believe we’d actually won,” wheelchair-bound Isobel said. “We got more or less what we wanted, which is to keep it open two days a week with a full service,one day a week as a social centre, and the other two days in the community.

“It means so much to those of us who use the centre and our carers. It’s been a hard slog for the whole management committee, and I can only take my hat off to Bill Calder, who worked tirelessly throughout.”

Thanking MSPs Jim Hume, John Lamont and Christine Grahame for their support, Mr Calder added: “Andrew Lowe, director of social work, and his senior managers are to be congratulated on the imagination and vision.

“Not only are they retaining the social work service in the centre, it will be expanded to include a social centre, an outreach service throughout the Borders, and renewed focus on recently disabled Borderers and their families. All of this is being achieved within the current budget.

“For the first time in months there is a genuine sense of optimism around. I can’t stress how important the coverage in The Southern has been. Without it I suspect the centre would have closed without a murmur.”