"Charity closure will have a big impact"

By Dave Doyle | 26/05/2017

'Charity closure will have a big impact'
Melanie Arundel who is upset about the closure of The Meeting Place, with mum and step father Caroline and Dave Prendergast

A CHARITY service offering activities for dozens of people with learning difficulties is set to close due to financial troubles.

Mencap Active Rotherham will shut its doors as organisers cannot afford to keep it running.

Based at the Meeting Place in Wingfield, the service offers leisure activities and holidays to people with learning disabilities and supports up to 50 people with day trips, providing respite to their carers.

The service - previously funded by Rotherham Borough Council - lost all funding in 2014 under local authority budget cuts and is expected to stop this summer.

Dave Prendergast said his step-daughter Melanie (31), who has Down’s Syndrome had enjoyed bingo, discos, pub visits, day trips and seeing friends each Monday and Saturday after joining the group three years ago.

Dave (63), said: “This is the only outlet for Melanie to see her friends safely and give us some rest, too.

“The sessions start at 10am, but she will be up at 7am and waiting to go from 9am.

“Pete and Julie, who run them, are really wonderful.

“Each month they will have a disco at the Silverwood Miners’ Welfare - presumably that will be stopping as well.”

Dave said that the 30 or 40 people regularly took part in the activities and trips.

“It’s so wonderful to see everyone there enjoying themselves, but we’ve been told it will stop from the end of June,” he said.

“Melanie doesn’t go out by herself because she is vulnerable, so this will be difficult for us.

“It will have a big impact on our lives and those of the other service users and their families.”

He added: “Melanie is aware that it is stopping, but I don’t think she realises what the impact will be. It won’t have sunk in yet.”

Mencap’s regional manager Elizabeth Ripping would not confirm the date the service would stop.

“Budget pressures” had forced the borough council to stop funding the service, she said.

She added: “Mencap has tried to sustain the service since the funding ceased. However, this has not proved possible.

“We are working with the people who rely on the service and their families in an attempt to ensure that they can still access leisure activities, which are vital for people with a learning disability.”

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