Burgess Hill disability centre residents ‘devastated’ about closure

Ernest Kleinwort Court in Burgess Hill. Picture: The Disabilities Trust
Ernest Kleinwort Court in Burgess Hill. Picture: The Disabilities Trust

Residents at a Burgess Hill disability centre are said to be ‘devastated’ about it closing later this year.

Ernest Kleinwort Court in Oakenfield is to close this October, it was announced on Tuesday.

The centre forms part of the nationwide network of support services provided by The Disabilities Trust.

Terence Thompsett, of West Gate, Plumpton Green, is a volunteer at the centre. He said he was ‘totally shocked’ by the news.

“The residents must be totally devastated as this is their home and being with their friends is very very important especially as many have been residents at EKC for many years,” he said.

“I have noticed over the time I have been connected with the centre the steady decline in facilities, activities, poor staffing levels and apparent high use of agency staff, and total lack of consistency with decisions made by management which seem to change with ‘the wind’.

“Money seems to have been wasted on projects such as the sensory room where the activities had to be carried out on the dining room table while little or no use was made of the room, which was formerly the activities room, where thousands of pounds were spent.

“The room is now partly being used by activities again but is also a glorified store room with the equipment still in place and not being used.

“The recent CQC report does not seem to have had any effect on any of the above problems and I know several of the residents have been deeply worried by the situation but as they say ‘where else can we go’.

“It would appear to an outsider that the organisation has been allowed to drift along with little or no proper management and it is going to be the residents who suffer.

“A change of mind regarding the closure and the replacing of the current management team at both at EKC and head office is required urgently to prevent even more stress on the residents and stop this wonderful facility being moth balled.”

Reverend Trevor Beckett is a pastor to several residents. He said he ‘knew how devastated the current residents will be by the decision’.

He added: “For many this has been their home for several years. These residents and their families should not be treated in this way.”

Mr Beckett said he hopes the Burgess Hill community will come together to prevent the closure from happening.

“An important facility such as EKC should not be lost in this way,” he said.

“It takes no account of years of volunteering and fundraising to support the centre and its residents.

“The Trust should not be using a poor CQC inspection as a reason for closing the centre, you don’t close a school that has a poor inspection, you turn it around.

“The Disabilities Trust trustees and it’s senior managers should either step down to facilitate the required change or hand the trusteeship of EKC to another disability organisation who can manage the required change.

“Surely if you take your proposed course of action it must give rise to the charity commission at least questioning the fitness of the organisation to run all of its services.”

Residents have responded to the news on Facebook. Jane Lloyd Hopkins said the news was ‘sad’ and that it was ‘happening far too often all over the UK’.

Amiee-leigh Euling said she felt for the residents. “I feel for the residents, hard working honest staff and families involved,” she said.

Scot Grant questioned what was going on with care in the district. He said: “First Marten House with night staff being stripped, putting residents at risk and more pressure on the ambulance service should people fall in the night, and now these 26 residents are being forced to move.”

Does the closure affect your or someone you know? If so, get in touch with us via middy.news@jpress.co.uk

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