Most of us have probably never come across the Solace Centre in West Eaing. It’s tucked away at the end of Bowmans Close and well off the beaten track. Yet, this mental health drop-in centre is suddenly at the centre of a storm with the Council threatening to close it as part of budget cuts. This decision has been put on hold following the recent death at Ealing Broadway station of one of its users.
The Council’s plan was to close the centre and give users their own personal budget to purchase appropriate care and services. However, I’ve walked past this centre hundreds of times on my way to the allotments across the road and have always been struck by the groups of people sitting outside talking, laughing and just relaxing together. The people have always been friendly and seem happy there. I cannot see the logic of closing it down as how can a personal budget replace the opportunity for users to meet, socialise and feel safe?
My colleague Eric Leach has written this about the Solace Centre:
‘On the face of it if the centre is providing a valuable cost effective service why can’t it be funded by the NHS West London Mental Heath Trust (WLMHT)? WLMHT currently provides £47,000 annual funding for the centre which pays for the weekend opening of the centre.
Alternatively why can’t funds be found from Ealing’s £29+ million 2015/16 Better Care Fund (BCF)? This pooled fund is operated by LBE and the Ealing Clinical Commissioning Group. BCF exists in order to facilitate integrating health care and social care. The budget has not been finalised but should be in February 2015.
Maybe WLMHT and the Ealing BCF could jointly fund the $151,000 annual running cost of Solace?
More on Solace and to sign the Save Our Solace Centre petition ‘
There’s more about this story of the Ealing Today website