Norfolk county councillors don’t understand the damage they’ll do if they close Morley House in King’s Lynn

The Countess of Wessex gets to know a young visitor during a visit to Break's Morley House at King's

The Countess of Wessex gets to know a young visitor during a visit to Break's Morley House at King's Lynn. Picture: Submitted - Credit: Archant

Campaigners say county councillors do not understand the damage they will do to families of children with complex needs if they close a respite centre in King's Lynn.

Representatives from Norfolk County Council have met with the families affected by the closure of the respite facility at Morley House, in King's Lynn.

One mother said afterwards: 'The meeting was extremely frustrating for the families who attended, as they were left with the feeling that NCC did not understand their children or their needs. Not all Morley families received an invite to this meeting and not all that were invited could attend due to the timing being too near the end of the school day.

'It quickly became clear that no alternative provision to Morley House has been planned, even though the respite centre will close in August 2018. Parents were dismayed to find out the closure had been announced before any alternatives have been put in place.'

She added parents were also dismayed that their children will go through yet another assessment process to prove need and that these assessments are in March leaving very little preparation time.

'There is now the very real prospect that the Morley House contract will end without an alternative being offered,' she said. 'We believe this is unacceptable as it will cause unnecessary harm to families, leaving them with no support and at an increased risk of spiralling into crisis.'

Families are asking the county council to reverse its decision to end the Morley House contract as there is currently no viable alternative in place that would offer like for like provision.

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A county council spokesman said: 'We are changing the way we fund short breaks services for children with disabilities so that we can support as many children as possible with additional needs. This means changing how we work with Break at Morley House.

'We understand that any change like this can cause uncertainty and can be worrying for families and have met with a group of parents to talk about the plan and how we will transition to different services. To minimise this uncertainty, we are ensuring every child's support plan is agreed as soon as possible. This will help families understand how they will be supported and enable us to determine which families will require ongoing residential respite from one of our alternative units, and which families might receive the help they need through short breaks provision within the community.

'Families have told us that they will need support to transition to any new arrangements and we are working closely with Break, who run Morley House, to make sure this is available.

'We are also meeting a range of other groups and individuals to discuss the changes to how our short breaks provision is delivered.'

A petition currently stands at almost 3,500 signatures. Paper copies can be found in King's Lynn shops including Artertons on the High Street and All That Glitters in Norfolk Street.

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