LETTER: Heartbreak that Marsden Centre is closing

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I HAVE been attending the Marsden Centre Resource Centre in Nelson for the past 22 years, first with my handicapped son and then, after suffering a stroke 13 years ago, I have attended myself.

The Marsden Centre has given people who have suffered a disability through health, accident or have a disability from birth an important outlet to what can be a very lonely existence.

I have always found the centre a very pleasant place to go.

This was until last February when our manager retired and a new manager took over the running of the centre, at which point everything changed.

Within a very short time birthday parties and entertainment was stopped, our tuck shop was closed and we were no longer allowed to collect for charity. The reason given for this was that the staff were not allowed to handle money.

A lady who used to attend the centre left money in her will for the centre to buy electric scooters which gave people attending the centre some independence to do a little shopping. The use of these was also stopped.

Most people who used the centre also looked forward to a nutritious meal - for some this was the only decent meal they had that week, which I might add was paid for ourselves. I find it very strange staff were allowed to handle this money but not money from the tuck shop, etc. However, this meal has been replaced on most occasions by a jacket potato.

The Marsden Centre is an important place where disabled people can meet and talk to others. For many it is the only time they have company. Many have made good friends over the years and this is now being taken away from us.

Since last November, slowly and gradually, each person attending the centre has been told they can no longer attend as the centre is closing. The notice given has been between two and four weeks. We have not been told of anywhere else we can go and to my knowledge all similar centres have also been closed. This once a week meeting has been a lifeline to me and many others.

Lancashire County Council has not given any thought to the distress this has caused me and my elderly disabled and now very lonely friends. I am heartbroken the Marsden Centre is closing and the way it has been handled.

Our Government and council seem to have no regards to the mental health and wellbeing of the elderly and disabled. They dismiss our existence all too quickly.

Where do we go now to socialise and stop our isolation?

MARGARET HILL

Walton Lane, Nelson