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Sit-in protest to save centre

PUBLISHED: 17:27 10 September 2008 | UPDATED: 10:04 23 August 2010

Dartford
03-09-08
Queen Elizabeth Resource Centre
Centre users stage 48 hour protest
Sonia Mallion

Dartford 03-09-08 Queen Elizabeth Resource Centre Centre users stage 48 hour protest Sonia Mallion

USERS of a specialist centre for the disabled who staged a 48-hour sit-in protest have vowed to continue fighting to save it from closure. More than 60 members of the Queen Elizabeth Foundation Resource Centre, in Brent Way, Dartford, staged a sit-in at

USERS of a specialist centre for the disabled who staged a 48-hour sit-in protest have vowed to continue fighting to save it from closure.

More than 60 members of the Queen Elizabeth Foundation Resource Centre, in Brent Way, Dartford, staged a sit-in at the centre last Tuesday and Wednesday to protest against Kent County Council's (KCC) plans to close the centre on October 17.

KCC bosses have proposed to close the centre and have the disabled members use mainstream facilities in its place. But users say the quality of care in regular facilities will be inferior to the high level of specialist care they receive at the centre.

Sonia Mallion, 42, of Oliver Road, Swanley, said: "We are six weeks away from closure and we are still not certain about what is going to be put in place. We have gone down every route possible and will continue to keep fighting. This is an asset to Dartford and the surrounding area. The way our concerns and views haven't been taken on board begs the question how will other service users be treated. It doesn't give us any faith in KCC."

For many of the users, their time in the centre is the only time they get out of the house and gives them support that they fear will be lost if they are forced to use other facilities.

Tom Wingrove, 57, of Attlee Drive, Dartford, said: "When a person is first informed they have a disability they are distraught. It takes a year or maybe longer before they come to terms with it. This centre provides the support for the families during this time enabling the person to come to terms with everything and to realise that there is a future. It isn't just a social club as Kent would have you believe."

A spokesperson for KCC said: "We understand that all parts of society value social opportunities and the chance to remain part of established communities. This is why social networking sites have been provided in Swanley, Gravesend and Dartford.

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