Save Lavender House

Gazette: Stacey Thompson has launched a petition to stop the closure of Lavender House son Oliver, seven, goes. Pictured with her husband Sean and daughter Megan, 10. Stacey Thompson has launched a petition to stop the closure of Lavender House son Oliver, seven, goes. Pictured with her husband Sean and daughter Megan, 10.

FAMILIES are campaigning to save an under-threat children’s respite home.

Essex County Council has launched a review of the respite care it offers to families of disabled children.

It could close Lavender House, in Stanway, saying it only ran at 80 per cent capacity last year.

Stacey Thompson, 28, from Highwoods, Colchester, who runs a support group for parents with disabled children, has launched a petition.

It already has more than 1,000 signatures.

Her son Oliver has Down’s Syndrome and has been on the waiting list for Lavender House for three years – proving how popular the service is.

Stacey said: “It is such a valuable service. It is such a great place for the kids to go.

“To say it is under-used is ridiculous.

“We’ve never been close to getting a spot.”

Mrs Thompson said Essex County Council has to listen to families.

She said: “They have picked on us because we are the quiet voice.

“It is easy to shut down the things we use because we have no say.”

Essex County Council is proposing closing Lavender House, and a facility in Harlow, as part of its attempt to save £215million.

It says respite breaks will be provided by independent homes, foster carers and activity and school holiday clubs.

Mrs Thompson said: “What the council is proposing is very vague. At Lavender House you know the staff, the children know where it is and what to expect.

“It gives the children a break from us and we can have a weekend away from the hospital appointments and constant day-to-day care.”

Closure would split our family

MUM Lorraine Woodhouse has been sending her son Aidan to Lavender House
twice a month for a two-night break for just over a year.

Aidan, seven, has severe autism and has a specially built safe space at home, to ensure he doesn’t harm himself during the night.

Lorraine, 46, from Wormingford, said: “Every time Aidan goes to Lavender House they are full.

“Me and my husband, Lee, have four children, two are grown-up, but Luke is nine and he has suffered dreadfully because we can’t do the things a nine-year-old wants to do.

“We can’t take Aidan to loud places with lots of people.

“It all has a big impact on Luke, who wants to go places and cannot understand why we can’t. So, the family then ends up splitting up, with Lee taking Aidan and me taking Luke.

“Our family is split until Aiden goes to Lavender House, then we can be a normal family.

“Before he went to Lavender House, his eating was minimal, only certain types
of food, but now he eats a whole range.

“He has come on leaps and bounds and it has done so much for him.

“There is consistency for him there, and routine. He has one-to-one care when he needs it.

“He is always pleased to be going, and though he likes to come home again, he absolutely loves it.

“I was distraught when I found out it could close, I wanted to cry. Everything is running nicely and smoothly and they throw this at us.

“Our house will be in turmoil again. I can’t explain how vital this is to us.”


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