Supporting vulnerable people

For me, one of the most important roles for any politician is to be active in supporting services that protect the most vulnerable people, especially in a recession when spending cuts often inadvertently harm those with a disability, or on the lowest incomes. Often this involves finding new ways to preserve services that would otherwise be cut.

Mental Health Service Users: For a number of months now I have been working with mental health service users, Dorset Healthcare University Foundation Trust and Dorset County Council  to obtain funding and the premises for a Mental Health Drop in Centre in the west of the constituency following the reduction of services at the Hughes Unit. Users want to have a facility where they can go during the week, for three to four hours every day, that is not part of a hospital environment. It looks as if a building will be made available and I am helping them to explore funding for a facilitator.

In the kitchen of one of the new flats for homeless families at West Rivers House which Ros helped to secure

In the kitchen of one of the new flats for homeless families at West Rivers House which Ros helped to secure

Supported Housing for Young People: Following changes to the contract for young people’s supported housing, West Rivers House, also known as the Bridport Foyer, was under threat of closure. I brought together a team of service providers, to keep the building open, and we have worked together to provide a range of additional services for the community.
The building, which has been partly refurbished, will now provide a range of different services to the Bridport Community:
  • seven units of young people’s supported housing provided by Bournemouth Churches Housing Association
  • two flats for temporary accommodation of homeless families provided by West Dorset District Council
  • the ‘Oh Crumbs’ cafe for adults with learning difficulties which is run by Dorset County Council
  • an IT room and a training room for rental to groups training adults and young people not in education, employment or training (NEETs) managed by Skills Training Bridport.
The building, which was considered unviable before  proposals for the initiative were brought forward, will now continue as an improved asset supporting a range of different needs in the Bridport community.

This is one of those occasions when pooling resources really comes together to make the building work. People were  scared that this valuable facility would go -and it’s an example of how providers working together can find new ways of delivering services in a cost effective way. I can’t thank all those involved enough – especially Magna Housing, who desperately wanted to keep the building open, BCHA who went out of their way to adapt their previous plans because they understood the importance of the building to the local community, and WDDC who were prepared to take up some of the space to provide accommodation for homeless people, which adds to their existing accommodation in Dorchester. They were all prepared to listen to me when I asked for their help and to go the extra mile in terms of keeping the facility open – as were Dorset County Council. I know that the message from the community of Bridport will be a resounding THANK YOU to all involved!

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