Tuesday 22 November 2016

Brent disabled charity threatened as NHS increases rent to market rates

My article on plans for the 'NHS Estate' elicited a comment about the future of Brent Advocacy Concerns LINK who are faced with a possible increase in their rent at Willesden Centre for Health and Care  LINK to market rates as part of the monetisation of NHS property.

BAC is a charity run by disabled people themselves.

John Healy, a South Kilburn resident and volunteer at Brent Advocacy Concerns, has provided further detail about the situation BAC faces:
Today at 12.30pm our landlords have called another 'building users meeting' (5 previous ones so far) but we have never been invited to attend any of them, including that meeting.  I intend to attend it as we have been there since the centre opened and on the previous site in Harlesden Road since 1991 and we are tenants of sorts.  The problem is we were tenants of BADP, a limited company who were dissolved on the 1st March this year. 

We have been surviving on our reserves and without knowing if we can stay in our office, it has been impossible to plan anything.  We are still solvent but have not received any income since the 2011/12 financial year.  We have no waged staff any more and now only use volunteers including myself.  We decided a couple of years ago to have a 'new' website which we now have and we are able to give advice and information to people who email or phone us.  We can no longer provide advocacy itself so we are only a shadow of our former selves.  But if we lose the office, it is more than likely that we will close down.

Both the council and the NHS have both been saying they are finding it difficult to reach 'marginalised groups' like disabled people but they have never contacted us, even though we are in the council's own directory.  We also help people with The Care Act 2014 in providing some disabled people with information they may need to understand it. Now our work is limited by the uncertainty about our future.

Just to conclude, there are approximately 50,000 disabled and people with a long term illness in Brent (refer to borough's diversity plan 2015-19 which is in The Wellbeing & Scrutiny Committee and the 2011 census) but we are the only disabled charity left.  The council might argue that is not the case but all the other services are companies first, with a charitable part to their business.  There are other charities as well but they cater for specific ethnic groups.

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