Mum accuses East Dunbartonshire Council of discriminating against her son who has profound learning disabilities

The mother of a severely disabled child has accused East Dunbartonshire Council of discriminating against her son and denying her respite from constantly providing care.

Tuesday, 28th July 2020, 1:27 pm
Photo Emma Mitchell. 19.10.15
Campsie View School
Photo Emma Mitchell. 19.10.15 Campsie View School

Karen Albrow’s 13-year-old boy, Ben, has profound learning disabilities and is a pupil of Campsie View School in Lenzie, which specialises in children with additional needs.

Ben had been attending a club called Buddies for two days a week, which provided some welcome relief to Karen, especially in lockdown. She said: “This allows me eight hours to get some sort of housework done, get shopping, get some sleep, get time with my other son. I am utterly exhausted by the complexities of caring for Ben 24/7 since March.”

However, Karen was recently informed that Ben and his friends would no longer be able to attend Buddies as it breaches Scottish Government guidelines regarding daycare and the service would not be restored until Scotland enters Phase 4 of its lockdown recovery roadmap.

Karen said that it was only EDC children, who were being denied access to the club. She added: “Children who use the same service but live in Glasgow City Council will continue to attend the service. Only EDC kids are being excluded.

“Once school begins again, many of our parents use this service as an after school service. So, they go to work, their child goes to school, then goes to Buddies and is taxied home at 6pm.

“So these parents cannot expect to return to work unless there is a service in place. There are no other appropriate services for our kids – we can’t use childminders etc as our kids’ needs are too complex.”

Karen also said EDC had decided not to open Buttercup House in Bishopbriggs, which is a respite centre for young people, even though other local authorities had opened equivalent centres. She added: “We have children who attend Campsie View and use respite services in Glasgow as their needs are too complex for Buttercup and their respite will continue to run.

“The difference here is that EDC own the respite home in Bishopbriggs and tender the service out to providers. We suspect that this is a financial decision in order to claw back funds and our children are being discriminated against on account of their needs.”

Karen added that several affected parents were writing to their elected representatives to point out how “utterly shattered” they are and demand more support from the council.

“Our kids can’t go to the park or go to the shops or sit outside a coffee shop. My son would run straight through the town centre! In addition, my older son is in need of time away from his brother. He’s endured the madness in this house since March and he very much needs some time to himself without me having to run after his brother 24/7.” 

Council depute chief executive Ann Davie said: “We understand the additional pressures that the Covid-19 restrictions have had on families of children with additional support needs and have been working hard to support them as much as possible.

“While many valuable services continued during lockdown others were unable to do so. Throughout lockdown and in the weeks since it began to ease, risk assessments of services have been done in line with Government guidelines and these continue. Working with the East Dunbartonshire Health and Social Care Partnership, we want to see the return of as many services as possible as soon as it is safe to do so and we can confirm that the summer play scheme will continue next week.

“During the time that some services were stopped as a result of Covid-19, the council continued to pay external agencies and partner to ensure they did not incur a financial loss.

“The safety of children, their families and staff has always been the priority. No decisions have been made on financial grounds but have been driven by a commitment to keep people safe.”