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Family Voice Surrey Update on Proposed Closure of Beeches Short Breaks Service - Offer to Meet with

On Monday 13 February 2017 Surrey and Borders Partnership made public their decision not to submit a bid to Surrey County Council to continue providing an overnight short breaks service at Beeches after the end of their current contract on 30 November 2017. This decision has caused shock and disappointment for the families already using or about to start using the Beeches service.

Following their decision, the SaBP service will end on 30 November 2017 and families using Beeches are faced with transition to a new service provider at that date. We recognise the turmoil and consternation this means for families and their children, knowing the value placed on the support and security provided by the Beeches service to their lives, for some over many years, and the trust and confidence that has been built up with staff. This uncertainty is further compounded by the fact that the transition to a known provider can only be planned from the end of July 2017.

The successful providers are expected to be known to all in the summer (current date is at the end of July), following the evaluation of the bids received and SCC award of contracts. FVS Co-chairs and other parent representatives who have experience of short breaks as service users are involved in the evaluation process, representing the interests of SEND families and monitoring the process to help judge how well it delivers the service that the children, young people and families said they wanted through surveys and consultations.

The current plan is that for 4 months from end July to end November 2017, the new providers can be approached by families via their social workers to make their choice and the chosen provider will start to get ready for the new service commencement date of 1st December 2017, working with each family, the Beeches team and SCC social workers to ensure a well-planned and smooth transition of service.

We are seeing a lot of questions being raised by families including: • Is it inevitable that Beeches will close? What are the plans for the Beeches building/could another organisation take it over? • If my child was due to start at Beeches, can they still do so, at least until December? • Will we be worse off/have a reduced care package as a result of this change? • How much real choice will we have about the support my family needs going forward? • Could staff at Beeches move with the children to a new provider? • Will there be a like for like local provision to replace Beeches? • What about families who need this specialist support but haven’t been able to access it?

Some of these are more straightforward to answer and Surrey County Council is offering immediate support by sending an information pack out to affected families with answers to a range of frequently asked questions. (We will post a link to that information shortly). Other questions can only be answered by SaBP and answers to yet others will depend on the new providers. So it may take time to arrive at clear definite answers to all of these questions and more importantly to a solution that works for each family affected by the change.

We have spoken to Surrey CC and SaBP and they have both offered to meet with families using Beeches to answer questions and discuss concerns and options for support going forward. Family Voice are offering to help to coordinate this and to organise the venues for families to meet with the council and SaBP and separately for discussion and planning. If useful, we could also seek advice from national partner organisations which support families in similar situations.

If you would like to meet or if we can support you in any other way, please contact our Co-chairs: Andrea Collings - tel: 07743 472535 David Izatt - tel: 01372 705708


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