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From: The Socialist issue 847, 11 March 2015: Save our schools!

Search site for keywords: Southampton - Protest - Homes - Care Homes - Council - Labour - Unison - Councillors - Health - Carers - Care workers - Unite

Southampton care homes protest

"I want my voice to be heard"

Protesting against cuts to care homes by Southampton council, photo by Nick Chaffey

Protesting against cuts to care homes by Southampton council, photo by Nick Chaffey   (Click to enlarge)

Residents' carers, workers and supporters gathered in Shirley precinct in Southampton on 7 March to rally support for Woodside Lodge and other day services and care homes under threat from the Labour council. The campaigners then marched to Woodside Lodge to hold a solidarity rally outside. The campaign has received the support of care workers who are disappointed their unions Unite and Unison are not doing more to back the campaign.

Other Unison activists there from the health service however have given their full backing.

Linda Hayes, Southampton, leads the campaign to save Woodside Lodge care home and day centre.

Here she explains how she became an activist.

I am a proud mother of two sons, and work within the local community as a hairdresser, in particular with people with high needs, such as Alzheimer's and dementia sufferers. I aim to help vulnerable people who don't have a voice. I have always stood up for what I believe is right: I am passionate and I am a people person.

In the year 2000, my father was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and Lewy Body dementia. He was a wonderful father and fantastic husband to my mother, who sadly died in 2003 of lung cancer. I then cared for my father alone. I had to fight long and hard to get my father into a suitable nursing home.

I realised that many others would be in a similar situation to mine and made my first protest on YouTube in 2006. I fought for the government and Nice (national institute for health and care excellence) not to stop the use of a drug called Aricept, which is important in prolonging quality life for those who suffer this disease.

My voice was heard and they agreed to keep the tablet available on the NHS. This helped my father at the early stages, but sadly he passed away in 2007.

Linda Hayes

Linda Hayes   (Click to enlarge)

I attend Woodside Lodge day centre and care home twice a week where I support people with Alzheimer's and dementia with community and hair dressing services. Woodside was a fantastic support for my father. He would stay there to give my mother rest, especially in the time she was undergoing chemotherapy. He enjoyed the visits to the day centre.

I learned, at the end of 2014, that Woodside Lodge was to be closed down by the local council in favour of apartments being built. I do not believe this is right.

We were advised that the needs of the residents were assessed, and they will be relocated: But there are no places nearby with 24/7 facilities that could support these people. It means increased stress for families and local hospitals. Staff will also lose their jobs.

I have attended the meetings at the Southampton City Council representing the public and it was a waste of time, as sadly they had already committed to the closure of Woodside. Don Thomas and Keith Morrell (Southampton Councillors Against Cuts - supported by TUSC) have helped my campaign, as has the Socialist Party.

I have been on BBC radio Solent, and in my local newspaper. I have made the local councillors and Labour MP aware. I've also contacted Russell Brand.

Margaret Thatcher ended her days in the Ritz at a cost of nearly 3,500 a night. She was well looked-after with dementia with private care around the clock. These people are not as fortunate and do not deserve to be treated this way.

If Southampton Labour council still wants to close Woodside Lodge, our next protest will be to David Cameron at 10 Downing Street in London!

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