Charity to close its 50 residential homes for disabled

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The Independent Online

Hundreds of disabled people are being moved out of their charity-run residential homes, as the voluntary sector switches from providing services to political campaigning.

Hundreds of disabled people are being moved out of their charity-run residential homes, as the voluntary sector switches from providing services to political campaigning.

The shift has split the disabled community, with supporters of the closures saying the homes have created segregated institutions and are outdated; others say people with special needs are being evicted from the only homes they have known.

The latest charity to phase out its residential homes is Scope, which campaigns and cares for children and adults with cerebral palsy. After a policy review and saddled with a budget deficit of £5m, Scope will shut its 50 residential homes within 10 years, meaning 500 disabled people will have to rely on social services provision. Scope says it should not spend donors' money on services that should be provided by the state.

Its chairman, Gerald McCarthy, said: "We have to stop squandering resources on subsidising the state for the benefit of tiny numbers of people, and get on with changing society."

The charity, set up 52 years ago to provide homes and education for children with cerebral palsy, says the trend now is toward inclusion in mainstream teaching and living in the community. But people in Scope-run homes say social services do not have the funding or the specialist care to look after some of them.

Residents at Cyncoed Flats, a semi-sheltered accommodation unit run by Scope in Cardiff, have launched a campaign to save their homes. The 11 residents and their families have been told the flats will be closed within next eight months and the land sold to an American-based retirement home company.

They have hit out at the charity for informing them of the closure only two months ago, and say Scope has "run roughshod" over their views. Anne McCarthy, whose 40-year-old son, Damon, lives in the flats, said: "Scope is hiding behind an ideology that disabled people need the chance to live in the community, and no one would argue with that. But people who have been in these flats for almost 40 years can't just be pushed around.

"Scope is not behaving like a charity. A cynical, deplorable, situation is being dressed up with politically correct jargon."

Tony Manwaring, chief executive of Scope, said: "Scope believes that, for too long, disabled people have lived in segregated communities, unable to make decisions about their own future, and kept away from non-disabled people; we admit that we too have to take some blame for this.

"In line with our Time to Get Equal campaign and of making equality a reality we are determined to provide services which empower disabled people so they can live in their own homes, and get the support they need to make their own decisions about their lives."

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