Do not ‘ruin’ our lives

Joanne Dixon with her daughter Hannah
Joanne Dixon with her daughter Hannah
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A mum has begged council chiefs not to let cash cuts “ruin” her daughter’s life.

Joanne Dixon, 45, of Warwick Close, Fulwood, has joined a chorus of voices calling for Lancashire County Council to backtrack on a decision to close at least one of the county’s respite centres for severely disabled children in the next 12 months.

Her daughter Hannah, 15, who is severely mentally and physically disabled, uses the under-threat Maplewood House respite centre in Bamber Bridge, which faces possible closure along with seven other centres across Lancashire.

Single mum Joanne says its closure will not only heap more pressure on her ability to cope but it could also ruin her daughter’s development.

She said: “These centres are much more than respite for the parents, they are a lifeline for the children themselves.

“Disabled children can’t simply have friends round for tea or sleep at a friends’ houses because of their needs.

“The one night a week that they get to go to places like Maplewood is the one night a week that they get to be with their friends.”

Hannah is registered blind, suffers from epilepsy, is wheelchair bound and has to be fed through a tube.

Round-the-clock staff at Maplewood also helped diagnose a potentially fatal problem that Hannah was having suffering seizures in the middle of the night.

Mum Joanne said: “The staff at Maplewood discovered she was having the seizures that hadn’t been caught earlier because I can’t be awake 24 hours a day.

“But because they are their all the time it was caught.

“As a result we got it sorted and the doctor said if it hadn’t have been caught she could have died in her sleep.

“People think respite is a luxury but it’s not. It’s everything to us.”

Lancashire County Council chiefs approved plans to close at least one centre at a meeting last week, despite protests from angry parents inside and out of the meeting.

They say closure of centres will not constitute a reduction of services as alternative services will be provided through other means or at remaining centres.