THE CLOSURE of the Trasna Centre in Lurgan - a lifeline to those with mental health issues - has been described as scandalous.
The centre off Union Street is to shut down as soon as the Southern Health and Social Care Trust finds ‘alternative provision’ for those who use it.
This comes weeks after the Mail revealed vulnerable young people are to be turfed out of their hostel at Mount Zion house.
One man who uses the service says he is extremely upset at the news.
Eugene McCullough, who has been using the service for 16 years, is devastated at the proposed closure.
The 46-year-old said the centre had been open for around 18 years and had more than 80 people per week using the service.
However according to the Trust, there is currently just one full time senior support worker and one part time support worker looking after around 16 people each day.
Mr McCullough said the centre had been a lifeline for him and many others. “It kept me busy and gave me a focus and it helped give my parents a bit of a break,” said Eugene.
“I think it is scandalous that it’s closing. It’s not fair. It is a place where we all felt safe.”
And he hit out at the Health Minister Edwin Poots. He said Mr Poots was trying to move people out into the community and the Trasna Centre was the very facility to help that trend. “But he is closing the centre down doesn’t make sense,” said Eugene.
He explained that the centre had given him and many others motivation to get up every day with all sorts of classes and things to do.
A spokesperson for the Trust said: “The Trust is working with MindWise in Lurgan, Banbridge and Portadown to provide social and recreational activities to the users who currently access Trasna Day Centre.
“Trasna House in Lurgan accommodates a number of community mental health teams and Trasna Day Centre which is the only day centre for adults with a mental illness operated by the Trust.
“The current condition and layout of the building creates a challenge in maintaining registration for the centre with the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA). Over the last few years, the Centre has reduced the number of attendees and is now registered to provide places for a maximum of 16 people each day.”
“The Trust has taken the decision to review attendances at Trasna with all services users to identify alternative social outlets for each one. In every case, the service user has been central to that review and where alternative provision has been identified staff in Trasna are assisting the service user with the transition into the new service.
“When the process of transition is complete and all service users have made the transition to other activities, the Trust will close Trasna Centre. The Trust has no definitive closure date. Staff members at Trasna Centre will be redeployed into other services within the Trust.”
The Health Minister’s Transforming Your Care review of health and social care endorses the Southern Trust approach to supporting people to live at home with a range of support from community mental health teams and partners in the voluntary and community sector.
Regarding alternative services, a Trust spokesman said: “There are outdoor and animal husbandry activities at Tanaghmore Gardens through Action Mental Health. Courses in anxiety management, relaxation, mental health awareness, relapse prevention, self care, and health and wellbeing are also organised by Action Mental Health in Lurgan. Jethro Centre in Lurgan offers arts, crafts, sports, exercise, relaxation and music classes.
“In the future users will access services closer to their homes. For example, people who live in Banbridge will have access to MindWise Banbridge activities and programmes.
“People who live in Portadown will attend MindWise Portadown and there will be a reduction in travelling time. All MindWise facilities are in town-centre locations. Service users make a contribution of £2 to their mid-day meal.
“The alternative services at MindWise in Lurgan, Banbridge and Portadown provide meals on certain days for a nominal charge and service users will continue to make a contribution to the cost of their meals.”
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