Leader: ‘Let’s hope a solution can be found for Westerlea’

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IT may not be the best known service in Edinburgh. But to those who use it, Westerlea Early Years service is a lifeline.

Parents of severely disabled children rely on the services it provides for specialist respite, hydrotherapy, music and sensory sessions for severely disabled nought to five-year-olds.

They have now been told by charity Capability Scotland that it is to close with lack of funding being the familiar problem.

Five staff will be made redundant and service users left with nowhere else to go.

A campaign has now begun to call for an 11th hour reprieve and we wish the organisers the best of luck.

While local authority funding has indeed been cut, it seems the council were as surprised as anyone to learn the service has been axed.

Capability Scotland has asked the council to identify other services to fill the gap but we know how difficult that will be to do.

Surely there is a way to continue the work of Westerlea and its skilled and caring staff in a low-cost venue which would meet everyone’s needs.

While budgets are being stretched and grants being cut to a range of community and voluntary groups across the city, this does not seem like a huge outlay for what is clearly a vital service to those who use it.

A petition to save Westerlea has attracted 2500 signatures in a week and we hope that both the charity and the local authority pull out all the stops for these families to find a solution.

As parent Penny Phillips tells us today: “Everything else has been cut.

“This is the last thing that gave us support.

“It’s really important to be able to go to a group where your children can be themselves and not be stared at – everyone just accepts everyone as they are.”