Councillor David Renard’s Swindon Advertiser column, 18th May 2018

 

Councillor David Renard, Leader of the Council

This week I am writing about two important issues affecting the Borough where we have agreement across all three political parties on the Council: our united opposition to moving a place of safety facility from Swindon to Devizes and our call for more people to come forward as foster parents.

Campaigning to Keep Sandlewood Court open

Some of you may have seen in the media that last week was Mental Health Awareness Week.  We have a facility in Swindon where the police can take people who are in extreme mental distress, where they can be assessed by a suitably qualified doctor and protected from harming themselves as well as others. Avon and Wiltshire NHS Mental Health Partnership is currently undertaking a consultation about closing this facility at Sandlewood Court and moving it to Devizes.

Respond to the Consultation

I would like to thank my colleagues, the Cabinet Members for Adults’ Health and Social Care and the Cabinet Member for Children’s Service for their work in co-ordinating the Council’s response to the consultation, which will be to oppose the closure.  Members of the Opposition and Minority Groups have also expressed their opposition to the change and the Council will be making a formal submission.  I would encourage all residents to go to the consultation page and register their concerns http://www.awp.nhs.uk/services/specialist/place-of-safety-(s136)/

While only a few people use this service each year, those who require it may be extremely vulnerable and any delay moving them across Wiltshire carries a risk to their health.  Increasingly a modern unitary Council like Swindon is primarily a personalised social care provider, and I make no apology for the time and resource we commit, and continue to commit, to providing these specialised services to those who need them most.

We would like more Foster Carers

The second area where we have support across the Council is for Foster Carer Fortnight through which we are trying to encourage more adults to take children in need so that they can benefit from remaining in the local community as well as getting the support all children deserve. Foster carers can help children grow and develop to become successful, independent adults.

We already provide a lot of support.  In April this year we introduced a new foster carers payment scheme, ranging from £200 – £750 per week dependent on skills and experience and the number of children fostered.  Other benefits include annual leave pay, school uniform allowance, help with the cost of new furniture for children in care and other financial assistance.

To find out more go to our fostering website at www.swindon.gov.uk/fostering, call the Council team on (01793) 464329 or email: fosteringrecruitment@swindon.gov.uk