Now on to Netherwood…

Given the severe budget cuts Camden is having to make as a consequence of this shambolic ConDem Government’s slash-and-burn approach to public services, it shouldn’t be too surprising that, hard on the heals about blogging on our efforts to save a local Children’s Centre, we Kilburn councillors in Camden are also campaigning to preserve Netherwood Day Centre, a specialist facility for older people with dementia and other mental health needs on Netherwood Street in our ward.

Netherwood is one of only two centres in the borough providing this service – the other, Raglan House in NW5, will take users from both centres under the council’s plans.  We have real concern about the capacity Raglan House has and the demand in the borough for this service.  Furthermore, Netherwood is purpose-built and has outside space – a real plus as those suffering from dementia often like to wander around.  Raglan House has neither quality.

Our efforts have yielded some good press coverage this week in all the local papers: front page in the Kilburn Times, Ham & High and the CNJ.

We’ve also written to Cllr Pat Callaghan, the Cabinet Member for adult social care, asking her to reconsider and arguing that even a bit more time for Netherwood might enable alternativ es to be found.  Here’s what we said:

Dear Pat

As you know from our discussions and your recent meeting with Thomas and Maryam, we three Kilburn ward councillors are extremely concerned that your decision to close Netherwood Day Centre will leave older people in our area with mental health needs, their carers and families without adequate access to a service which has proven a lifeline again and again.

We do understand and appreciate the dire funding context in which you are having to make budget decisions for ASC, but it feels that this cut will disproportionately affect residents in the north and west of the borough, and by leaving Camden with only one such centre, it would give little resilience for service provision should there be an increase in need over the coming years.  This is not simply an argument about preserving a service for our ward and locality; but about wider capacity to provide a lifeline service for an extremely needy group of residents across the whole borough.

We ask you to revisit your budget plans, even this close to Cabinet and the budget-setting full Council meeting, to find the funds to save Netherwood.  This centre undoubtedly provides a superb preventative service which keeps older people with dementia active and connected to their community; without it there is a very good chance that users will end up with higher-level care needs, which will, of course, cost Camden and the NHS more in the long run – to say nothing of their dignity and quality of life.  In particular, the fact it is purpose-built and has its own grounds is so important, as it gives its users valuable space to wander and feel free, within a built environment.  Raglan House does not have this facility; the users of Netherwood will feel its loss greatly.

If ceasing long-term funding is not an option, we would still ask you to find some funds to keep the centre for a few further months.  This will enable users to enjoy the garden and grounds in the summer, but – more crucially – allow your officers to explore alternative sources of funding for the centre.  We note that it is yards away from Brent and relatively near Barnet.  As far as we understand it, there has not been time or resources to explore these – and other, perhaps voluntary and private sector – sources of income for the centre.  Buying some time for Netherwood could provide the space to create a new funding stream.

Lastly, we would ask that the centre is mothballed, or that other appropriate local providers (like Kingsgate Resource Centre and Kingsgate Community Centre) are given the opportunity to hire/use its facilities, rather than selling it off in early phase of the Community Investment Programme.  Notwithstanding the dire capital position the council is in, this is a specially-built facility which would not be cheap to replicate from scratch, if it became necessary due to need and capacity constraints at Raglan House, to re-open a second centre in the borough.


Cllrs Maryam Eslamdoust, Thomas Gardiner & Mike Katz

Carers of users have also organised a petition, which I would urge you to sign; and do email Pat Callaghan directly if you care for, or know someone who uses, Netherwood Day Centre.  Local older people’s group KOVE are also campaigning against the proposal.

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