Shock for East End’s disabled as Tower Hamlets Council shuts down their day-care centres

Jack Dash House on Isle of Dogs... one of three day care centres facing closure. Picture: Google

Jack Dash House on Isle of Dogs... one of three day care centres facing closure. Picture: Google - Credit: Google

Hundreds of isolated and disabled people are in shock this week after being warned by Tower Hamlets Council that their day-care centres could be closed down.

Three centres that were shut during the Covid lockdown may not be reopened when the emergency is finally over, the council has warned them in letters sent to their homes.

They are the Riverside centre at Jack Dash House on the Isle of Dogs, the Opportunity centre for brain injury recovery in Stepney Way and a Bethnal Green pensioners’ centre at Pritchard’s Row.

The decision is being voted on at next week’s cabinet meeting.

A council spokesperson said: “We know how important day services are to our residents, which is why we want to hear what people think about our proposals. A full consultation will run from early November, directly engaging with people who receive support from day services and staff working in them.”

A petition has been started at the Jack Dash centre in Marsh Wall to protest at the cuts.

“My client is breaking down over the closures,” care worker Manuel Ghobo told the East London Advertiser.

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“She is 69 and an outpatient at Mile End Hospital with mental breakdowns who is distraught.

“I’ve had 20 calls from her. She’s gutted by the letter.

“We have 500 people attending these centres who’ll be in isolation, many with no families.”

The GMB and Unison trade unions only found out about the closures on Monday, a day before the letters went out.

Ex-security worker Alan Orpwood, now 72, became a full-time carer for his disabled wife before he had an accident himself when he tripped on a broken pavement in Mile End, damaging his spine.

His only break from isolation at his home in Park Square, Cubitt Town, is his weekly visits to Jack Dash House.

His wife Anne, 63, explained: “Alan can’t walk far without a walking frame. We’re devastated that his centre is closing.”

All three day care centres closed during the lockdown.

“We asked the council when our centre would reopen and were told not till the virus is cleared,” Anne added. “Now we hear they’re closing it altogether.

“My husband depends on the transport picking him up. It’s his lifeline.”

Jessica Cupit turns 93 at Christmas, the widow of a docker who raised a family of eight in Shadwell in the post-war years, now living alone in Stepney, has been stuck at home while her Pritchard’s Row centre was shut through Covid.

Her daughter Christine Scotton, 71, said: “It’s a bit of a blow to her that it’s not reopening. It was Mum’s only outing being collected each day — she went there five days a week.”

Jessica without the Pritchard’s Row centre is now bedbound, suffering a curved spine and dementia. She now has to have carers three times a day while she’s stuck at home.

The day care closures are being discussed at the council’s cabinet meeting on October 28.