The piece in last week’s Southern on the imminent closure of the Borders Disability Forum, following on the previously reported threatened closure of the Galashiels Focus Ability Centre, is a timely reminder of the apparent low priority given by the region to the support of severely disabled people in the Borders.
As far as the ability centre is concerned, I understand that Scottish Borders Council (SBC) believes preplanned home visits by professional home care advisors would be an adequate substitute. I believe that this seriously underestimates what would be lost by such a move.
The value of a centralised facility where people with a wide range of disabilities can meet, support, and encourage each other in a group setting cannot be replicated by home visits by professionals, no matter how well intentioned.
Further, the centre has been able to provide help with transport, arrange morale-boosting outings, and, very importantly, has been able to provide a few hours of badly needed respite for hard-pressed family carers. If the availability of such services is to be withdrawn, the sense of social isolation endured by these disabled people will surely get worse.
I do hope SBC will give due consideration to the personal costs that are going to be incurred when weighing up the financial gains that they are hoping to achieve by closing this valuable asset.