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Protest by vulnerable Ealing residents over council scrapping Careline service

Sheltered housing residents in Ealing have staged a demo outside Ealing Council offices to get the Labour-run council to reverse plans to ditch the Ealing Careline service.

The emergency support service used by thousands of senior citizens, vulnerable and disabled residents provides a pull cord or button press emergency call out service to those needing it.

It is due to close in the coming days and in a communication with users of the service, the council has told them they will need to find an alternative provider.

Previously, trade union Unison wrote to the council over its concerns that the service was to be shut with the loss of 15 staff who handled 124,000 alarm calls and incidents over the past year.

According to campaigners, users of the service have been left in limbo and been given confusing information about alternatives with none said to provide a like for like service to what is currently offered.

Sheltered housing residents belonging to community union ACORN, along with representatives of Committee for Action in Sheltered Housing and Ealing Reclaim Social Care Action Group, went to council offices to address councillors and seek a reversal of the decision to close Ealing Careline.

The protesters spoke to Councillor Bassam Mahfourz, cabinet member for safe and genuinely affordable homes who campaigners say has agreed to meet with them to discuss the issue.

Paul Williams, ACORN national organiser said: “Our members are very concerned and frightened about these changes to their Careline service. They seem to be rushed, and ill-thought out, with poor communication. We will be supporting our members who are Ealing Careline users in their campaign until a resolution can be found.”

Brian Rose, 74, an ACORN member and sheltered housing resident said: “We’ve been left in a state of limbo due to the council’s decision to end the service without due concern to ensure that an adequate replacement service is in place. I’m particularly concerned about my brother who is also an Ealing Careline user. He has a mental health disability. I’m his carer and I’ve not been notified of an adequate replacement service.”

Mr Rose added: “Not enough time has been given by the council for a review to be conducted by their adult social services department, and we don’t know what happens when the Careline service ends.”

Maggie Beirne, secretary of Ealing Reclaim Social Care Action Group (ERSCAG) commented: “This decision will put older and disabled people who rely upon the service at serious risk. The council must reverse the decision or at least halt its implementation until those needing the 24/7 alarm system have secured a like-for-like service”.

Another resident set to be impacted by the closure of Ealing Careline is 64-year-old Clive who is recovering from cancer. He said: “I’m in my 60s and recovering from cancer but I’m concerned about much more vulnerable residents.”

He added: “I know of people who have had their lives saved by Careline and using the pull cords, including someone who suffers from muscular dystrophy who passed out. When their friend found them they pulled the emergency cords and emergency services were there in 10 minutes. Without our emergency cords, situations like this could be fatal. The council needs to reassure us that our emergency services are going to be protected.”

Speaking to EALING.NEWS, chair of Ealing Green Party Neil Reynolds said: “This is another example of austerity biting hard. The one thing that cutting services like careline won’t do is save money in the long run. Vulnerable people will be pushed into residential care or hospitals as a result.”

Mr Reynolds added: “The Green Party supports funding local authorities to help vulnerable residents to get the support they need at home. It is often best for residents and the tax payer.”

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