'It's quite terrifying' - Oakleigh School in Whetstone could lose OOPS Playscheme

Times Series: Parents say their children rely on the OOPS Playscheme. Photo by Beverely Cohen. Parents say their children rely on the OOPS Playscheme. Photo by Beverely Cohen.

Parents of severely disabled children are living “one inch from the edge” as they face uncertainty over whether the play scheme they rely on will run over summer.

The OOPS Playscheme, which runs at Oakleigh School, in Oakleigh Road North, Whetstone, is at risk of losing £38,000 for the ten-day scheme.

Many parents say the scheme is the only place they trust to leave their children – many of whom need round-the-clock and palliative care.

According to the parents, Disabled Children’s Services at Barnet Borough Council have told them there is “not enough money” to keep it running.

Parent Beverley Cohen, whose daughter, Liora Sarnaik, seven, has severe learning difficulties, epilepsy and a kidney problem, said: “There’s a question mark over what’s going on.

“Nobody’s told us, we’re all in limbo. It’s quite terrifying. We’re living one inch from the edge.”

The parents have now organised a petition calling on Barnet Borough Council to reverse the cuts.

The council's Labour group submitted an item calling for an updated report on the cuts to the short breaks scheme before the children, education, libraries and safeguarding committee next Monday.

But after an error in the way councillors were calculated, there is a question mark over whether it can still go ahead.

Earlier this year, cuts of £45,000 to Mapledown School, in Claremont Road, Cricklewood, were held off for another year after pressure from parents.

Labour Parliamentary candidate Sarah Sackman, who is supporting the families, said: “These parents put on brave faces but when I met with parents it was clear to me that these people who dedicate so much of their time and love to their children need our support.

“The last thing the council needs is for families to collapse under pressure.

“The decision to cut funding to OOPS, and other respite schemes, is a false economy in the long run.”

To sign the petition, click here.

Barnet Borough Council said it could not comment on the matter.

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