"The centre is like an extended family to him"

About: George Steven Centre

(as a parent/guardian),

Our son attends the George Steven Centre. This purpose-built centre is located in Kilbirnie, Ayrshire. The Centre is owned and managed by the Salvation Army.

The centre supports adults with learning difficulties to achieve their goals in life and to be included and respected within their communities. Our son attends 5 days per week and has done so since he left school 15 years ago. He loves going there. He has a varied, interesting, personal programme which is produced following consultation with himself and his key worker. This year this includes gardening; exercise programmes; memory activities; ten pin bowling; sound, rhythm and music classes; new age curling; chair exercises; games and team quizzes. His community activity is ten pin bowling. We as parents/carers are actively encouraged to give our input to ensure that the centre provides the most appropriate programme for our son. The programme is reviewed regularly and where necessary changes are made, following consultation with all involved. This year he has achieved two ASDAN awards. His programme enables him to realise his potential, improve his skills and improve his confidence. The centre is like an extended family to him. Attached to the Centre is the Blend in Café. This opened to the public over 10 years ago and is an integral part of the George Steven Centre. Several of the service users work within the café receiving training to give them the skills necessary to work within a café environment. Two nights per week, through choice, our son returns to the centre in the evening to participate in the Halo Programme. Again he thoroughly enjoys this. The purpose of the Halo programme is to allow the members to experience a broad range of general education which helps enhance and improve learning and achievement. He has worked on literacy and numeracy activities; healthy eating; safety and hygiene; safety in the home to name but a few. The group have even been guests on a live radio show, 3TFM. We could go on and on about what happens in the George Steven Centre, things like the charity fundraising the service users become involved in, raising money for Prostate Cancer; or the trips and outings that they go on throughout the year, but the point we are trying to get over, by giving the above information, is that the George Steven Centre provides an excellent service within the Garnock Valley. There is no other centre for adults with learning difficulties within the Garnock Valley.

We have regular Inclusion Meetings at the centre to which parents and carers are invited to attend. A representative from North Ayrshire Council attends on occasion. Information is shared and questions answered. Given the centre is so good we cannot understand the following: -

1. The centre is registered to take 30 full time equivalent (FTE) places for adults with learning difficulties but due to block funding it is capped at 20 (FTE) places. Why is this? Why are other adults with learning difficulties, within the Garnock Valley, potentially being deprived of a place at the George Steven Centre?

2. The George Steven Centre (GSC) received around £78.50 per head per day (as quoted by NAC on 26/9/14) from North Ayrshire Council. We were also told by NAC that at that time the NAC centre at Fergushill cost around £111 per head per day. At our last Inclusion Meeting on 26/6/15 we were told that the GSC has been cut further to £59 per head per day. The Salvation Army requires to invest heavily in the centre to make up the shortfall to ensure a high quality service continues to be provided. Two questions? Why does the George Steven Centre get so much less money than an equivalent centre owned by North Ayrshire Council? Given the George Steven Centre is by far the cheapest option, why are they not having additional service users referred to the centre rather than having the number capped? To us it just simply doesn't make sense. Explanations would be appreciated.

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Response from Senior Manager, North Ayrshire Council (Commissioner)

Dear Avieisle.

Thanks for taking the time to get in touch and give your very positive comments about the George Steven Centre. It's lovely to hear about your 3 sons great experience there, that the centre is like an extended family to him and that he enjoys the interesting and varied programme. The George Steven Centre will be delighted with the high praise you give to their excellent service in the Garnock Valley.

You have also asked for further explanation on the North Ayrshire Health & Social Care partnerships position in the following three areas:

1. The block funding arrangement for 30 places per day had been in place for many years but the places were not fully utilised. An agreement was reached with the Salvation Army to change the block-funding to 20 places per day with additional places commissioned on an as required basis.

2. Fergushill is a North Ayrshire Health & Social Care partnership operated service and as such Fergushill does nor receive payments from the Health and Social Care partnership. The £111 figure is an indicative unit cost which also includes costs of the property. The rates for commissioned services, such as the George Steven Centre, are negotiated and agreed between the Health & Social Care partnership and the provider organisation.

3. The George Steven Centre and Fergushill are different services and should not be compared. Access to the George Steven Centre is based on the level of assessed need and availability is as per the agreement between the Salvation Army and the Health & Social Care partnership.

I hope that the above explanation clarifies the situation and is satisfactory. Please feel free to contact me again if there are any issues you would like to discuss further. Thank you again for getting in touch and sharing your positive experience of the service provided by the George Steven Centre.

Marianne Kilgour

Team Manager

Learning Disabilities

Calley Court Resource Centre

Moorepark Road West


KA20 3HN

01294 476000

Update posted by Avieisle (a parent/guardian)

Thank you for your response. I'm Surprised to read that the money given to the GSC does not include any "costs of the property" but I am so pleased to read that "additional places can be commissioned on an as required basis" at the George Steven Centre, and that adults with learning difficulties within the Garnock Valley will not be deprived from attending this excellent centre in the future. That is reassuring to know.