Petition to save respite homes soars past 3500

The Norman Laud Association faces closure

A petition to help rescue ailing charity, the Norman Laud Association, has reached more than 3500 names.

The charity is set to shut its two care homes in Wylde Green by the end of December after becoming a victim of the pandemic.

The charity’s short-break homes, Lime Grove and Emscote House, provide vital respite services for adults and children with learning disabilities, autism and physical care needs.

But Covid-19 has had a huge detrimental financial impact on the association’s fundraising income, leading to the charity being placed in liquidation, with 40 jobs set to be lost. 

There is, however, a growing determination to save the 59-year-old charity and organisers of a campaign are aiming to reach 10,000 signatures as they appeal Birmingham City Council to step in and put together an emergency rescue package to save it.

Gina Powers, whose son Luke, 26, receives respite care at Emscote, says it is a devastating blow.

“Emscote House has been a God send for us,” said Gina. “I didn’t actually realise how important the centre was to Luke until we were lockdown earlier this year.

“We had not gone outdoors since March and lockdown turned Luke inward, he didn’t want to mix with me or eat much. He became a recluse in his room and went downhill from a mental health perspective.

“But he has just come back from respite now and he is really chirpy, really happy. I hadn’t realised how much lockdown had affected until he came home from some time there.  

“So we are devastated by the news and I think most the parents are. It’s like a second home to Luke. He knows everybody, he has friends there.

“They have known it as long they have known school a lot of them, it’s just so sad.

“Now we have to face the prospect of sending our children somewhere else, where we don’t know anything about because we can’t look at them because of lockdown.

“For me, life without the respite care Luke has is unthinkable. He’s lost his lifeline, as have I.”

Councillor Alex Yip said: “It is clear that the service is incredibly loved, a vital life line for hundreds of families and Birmingham City Council cannot allow it to close, certainly not in the middle of a pandemic, denying the most vulnerable members of our society access to appropriate respite care provision.

“The charity have a substantial shortfall of £300,000 which needs to be found in a matter of weeks to have any chance of securing its long-term future.

“Birmingham City must step in and put together an emergency rescue package to save this vital service. The Norman Laud Association has been providing vital care for disabled people and their families for 59 years.

“We simply cannot allow this to end. Their lives and futures matter too much.”

Charles Turner, partner at CVR Global and a specialist in the charity sector together with Craig Povey, head of CVR Global’s Birmingham office, will be helping with the liquidation process.

Charles said: “It is never easy when a charity doing excellent work in the community runs into financial difficulty, but our job is to face the commercial realities and find the best options for everyone involved.

“Following discussions with the Trustees, our recommended process is a gradual winding-down of the charity, which means its most vulnerable clients can continue to get the care they need while arrangements are made for their future care.

“Given the circumstances, this is the Trustees’ preferred outcome – it is the best way to protect the interests of both clients and stakeholders in what is a very difficult situation.

“Every effort was made to keep the homes open, but long-term challenges to the underlying financial operational model, made much worse by the pandemic, meant this was simply not viable.

“We are pleased to hear everything is being done to ensure The Norman Laud Association’s children, adults and families find alternative care arrangements after the homes close.”

For more details on the petition, visit https://www.change.org/p/call-on-birmingham-city-council-to-save-and-properly-fund-norman-laud-association-respite-care-for-people-with-disabilities

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