A few months ago, Wrexham Council decided to change the way it helps people with disabilities get work and volunteering opportunities.
So how are those changes working out?
That’ll be the key question on the table when our Safeguarding Scrutiny Committee meets on April 17.
Councillors will review progress since the changes were agreed by the Executive Board last October, and look at the impact on service-users.
What did the changes involve?
The changes involved winding down three council-run business projects that provide work opportunities.
Since October, the Coverall Laundry and Portable Appliance Testing service (used to check electrical appliances) have closed, and Le Café has been scaled-down to cater for just the Cunliffe Enablement Centre where it’s based.
So what was the thinking behind the closures?
Well…instead of being tied-up running these ‘businesses’, support workers can now focus their time on helping people get more tailored opportunities in their communities – linking-up with employers, charities and community projects.
The projects were effectively businesses that used a lot of staff time. Time we felt could be better spent helping people find opportunities elsewhere.
Alyn Waters cafe
The changes also involved finding someone to take over the running of the café at Alyn Waters Country Park, which also provides work opportunities for people with disabilities.
Local charity Groundwork North Wales has taken on a seven-year lease with a view to developing the café and the conference facilities at Alyn Waters Country Park, as well as continuing to provide work opportunities.
Why are councillors looking at the changes?
The council has several scrutiny committees.
Their job is to examine – or scrutinise – key issues, policies and decisions, and to make recommendations.
Councillor Derek Wright, who chairs the Safeguarding Scrutiny Committee, says: “It’s really important that people with disabilities can get work and volunteering opportunities. So even in these times of continued austerity, we need to make sure we’re still providing a quality service.
“As a scrutiny committee, we’re tasked with looking at key decisions like this, and we’ll be hearing about progress and looking at whether the new arrangements are meeting the needs of the people we’re here to help and support.”
The committee will base their discussion around a report from Councillor Joan Lowe – Executive Board member with lead responsibility for social services.
The meeting takes place at the Guildhall in Wrexham on Wednesday, April 17 at 4pm.
If you’re interested in listening to the discussion, you can watch it live on the council’s webcasting service…or just catch up later.
WATCH THE MEETING
The committee will also hear about the Safe Places scheme.
The scheme encourages shops, cafes, taxi firms and other local businesses to provide places where vulnerable people can go if they’re feeling worried or anxious when they’re out and about.
We’ll be reporting on the project in a separate blog post.