Fury as cared for people banned from carers' meetings because of 'health and safety'

This Is Lancashire: Pictured in happier times at the centre are, from left, Doreen Harper, Cllr Joan Grimshaw, Pat Coote and Maureen Blower Pictured in happier times at the centre are, from left, Doreen Harper, Cllr Joan Grimshaw, Pat Coote and Maureen Blower

FRUSTRATED carers who were told they may no longer be able to bring the people they care for to Bury Carers Centre have been offered a compromise.

The centre, in Silver Street, holds a range of activities for carers, including art classes, tai chi and a weekly coffee morning.

In November last year, a letter was sent to the centre’s users stating those they care for can no longer also attend these meetings, citing health and safety issues.

The letter, signed by Alistair Mirfin, carers’ senior development worker at Bury Council, and centre manager Sheila Blackman, stated: “Bury Carers Centre is a service for carers and, as such, we will no longer be able to offer the person you care for a place on the activity.”

Furious users of the centre, including Pat Coote, vice chairman of the Bury Carers Forum, said these plans created a potential “barrier” for attendees.

Pat, who takes husband Wilfred to Bury Carers Centre, said: “Sometimes a carer can only attend with the person they care for due to cost, the risk of leaving someone unattended or because they prefer to do things together.

“What about our choice? If a carer cannot attend the centre with the person they care for, they are being denied access to support, advice and information.

“This shows how unimportant carers seem to be to the people who should be our champions.”

A spokesman for Bury Council said the centre needs to represent all carers — those who want to bring the person they care for to activities and those who do not.

Following policy discussions, a solution to alternate the weeks carers can attend with their cared-for with those they attend alone has been suggested.

But Louise Brook, who has used the centre for several years, said the decision made carers the victims of disability discrimination by association.

Louise, who lives in Radcliffe said: “This is a violation of human rights — a direct contravention of the Equality Act 2010 and the Bury CCG Equality Publication 2014.

“Our job is hard enough without having the full backing and understanding of the council.”

Cllr Rishi Shori, Cabinet Member for Adult Care, Health & Housing said he sympathised with carers.

He said: “I have asked council officers to look at taking a much more flexible approach that perhaps can see days being allotted for when just carers can attend the centre and those in which carers can bring the people they care for.

“There isn’t just one type of carer in our community and we people in different circumstances.”

Cllr Joan Grimshaw, chairman of Bury Carers Forum, said she was “grateful” Cllr Shori had intervened and listened to the views of carers centre users.

Recently elected chairman, Cllr Grimshaw oversaw a turnout of more than 100 unpaid carers at a forum held last month.

For more information on Bury Carers Centre or future forums: call the centre on 0161 763 4867.

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