We’ve looked before at the efforts being made to save the Solace Centre in West Ealing, Ealing’s only drop-in mental health centre. Why does it matter? This question is best answered by people who use it and here is why they passionately believe it matters not just to them but to the whole borough:
‘Why are we so passionate about stopping this proposed closure?
Solace is pivotal in keeping us (the Solace service users) well in the community, staying away from more expensive mental health resources.
We come to the Solace Centre because we have all experienced many mental health hospital admissions (resulting in lots of personal upheaval, distress, distress and pain). What we need is practical day-to-day help, friendship, togetherness, care so we can keep independent, stable, maintained and connected within the Ealing community.
All of us (some 85 members, a total of 130 service users) who use this service suffer from long and enduring mental health problems (mainly psychotic illnesses). We all attend Solace regularly (there were 9,242 attendances last year). Staff know us very well and can tell when our mental health is deteriorating and in risk of relapse.
The Solace Centre is the only out of hours mental health resource in the Ealing borough. It’s open 265 days of the year offering a potential of 1,664 hours respite yearly (for members and carers). Open from Monday-Friday 4-8pm and Saturday and Sunday12noon-6pm (weekends for meembers only).
Our ages are between 20-76 years, with the majority between 40-59 years and from a diverse ethnicity. Unusually, half the members are women because they feel safe and accepted.
Labour can stop this proposal (to close Solace). The Council runs the Solace Centre on £104,000 yearly with the West London Mental Health Trust contributing £47,000 a year towards the weekend service. This budget is small in comparison with a re-admission back into hospital. A mental health ward bed is £350 a night. An admission is usually around two to three months and often a lot longer. It would only take two or three members to go back to hospital before this budget would be outstripped.
We are really anxious over this proposal but have been working hard to make our voices heard – we have now gained over 2,000 petition signatures, over 130 letters the Council and mounted several protests. We have gained support from carers, clinicians, professionals, friends, family and the community – all united in putting a stop to this proposal that does not make clinical orfinancial sense.
Celebrity supporters Jo Brand and Gladiator (Bullit) even attended one of our protests!
We are running out of time. A final decision is likely mid-February. We need your support now. Please support us – www.saveoursolace.co.uk