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Centre members: We'll go it alone'

PUBLISHED: 16:21 20 May 2009 | UPDATED: 10:42 23 August 2010

THEY CAN’T WRITE US OFF’: The protest at the QEF centre closure. (Inset) Ann O’Brian.

THEY CAN'T WRITE US OFF': The protest at the QEF centre closure. (Inset) Ann O'Brian.

MEMBERS of a resource centre for the disabled that was axed last year are planning to form their own charity, claiming that replacement services are not adequate. Active Life centres replaced the former Queen Elizabeth Foundation (QEF) centre, in Brent

MEMBERS of a resource centre for the disabled that was axed last year are planning to form their own charity, claiming that replacement services are not

adequate.

Active Life centres replaced the former Queen Elizabeth Foundation (QEF) centre, in Brent Way, Dartford, which was axed last October.

Ann O'Brian, 57, from Gravesend, whose husband Daniel attends the centres, has now helped launch the North Kent Disabled Foundation.

Having secured almost £5,000, the group hopes to start its own charity, claiming the decision by Kent County Council to close the centre has led to a serious reduction in services.

Speaking before a meeting due to take place yesterday evening, she said: "This meeting is a last-ditch attempt to get them to address these issues. If they don't, then we're going to wash our hands of them and go our own way."

Member Tony Woods, of King Edward Avenue in Dartford, said: "It is an absolute disgrace. The closure has destroyed the community.

"We used to be one big, happy family but now we're all split up. People have stopped coming because the centres are so bad."

Among complaints are that the centres open only one day a week, offer jewellery and card-making as the only activities, lack transport for those with mobility scooters, and have no shower facilities and no computers for blind people.

Mr Woods, 60, who has heart and lung disease, added: "We used to have all sorts of classes and now we just have jewellery and card-making classes.

"That's all we are offered.

"It's our bodies that have packed up, not our minds. We need some variety.

"I am so angry. We are a whole community. They can't just write us off."

North Kent MPs Dr Howard Stoate, for Dartford, Michael Fallon, for Sevenoaks, and Gravesham MP Adam Holloway were invited but only Dr Stoate agreed to attend.

A KCC spokesperson said: "It was never the intention to provide like-for-like services after the resource centre stopped being used and we never said this would happen.

"We said that no one who was at the resource centre would be denied a service and that social networking opportunities would be available for everyone, together with some art, craft and jewellery opportunities.

"For all other activities, it was made clear that KCC would help people to look for, and get involved with, the activities they chose.

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