'Our disabled children have nothing else' - parents to protest against Oakleigh School cuts (From Times Series)
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Parents to protest against Oakleigh School, Whetstone, cuts ahead of tonight's children, education, libraries and safeguarding committee at Hendon Town Hall
Parents of disabled children will stage a protest ahead of a meeting where councillors will decide the fate of “fantastic” play activities.
The OOPS summer scheme, at Oakleigh School, in Whetstone, is under threat of losing £38,000 for the ten-day summer programme.
It is one of ten providers that fell victim to Barnet Borough Council’s cuts after it slashed £307,000 from its short breaks scheme and £100,000 for similar programmes, including OOPS.
Tonight, parents will bring their children to a meeting of the children, education, libraries and safeguarding committee at Hendon Town Hall in The Burroughs at 7pm.
They hope to show the councillors first-hand just how much difference the scheme makes to their “challenging and difficult” lives.
Before the meeting, in which the cuts could be reversed, families will also protest outside the hall from 6.30pm, brandishing banners and photographs of their children as councillors arrive.
Rose Charles cares for her grandchildren Ben, 17 and Sophie, seven. Neither can swallow, so both are tube-fed. Ben’s also needs a wheelchair and oxygen equipment.
As her grandchildren require medication at 7pm, she is unable to bring them along this evening.
She told the Times Series: “How can we give up? This is for our children. They’ve got nothing else, no other means of play.
“This protest won’t go away. We won’t go away. Our disabled children won’t go away. The need just doesn’t change because councillors have decided our children aren’t good enough for this.
“Don’t they have the right to leisure time too? It’s about safety and trusting people who understand the needs of our children. We trust this place, we don’t trust anywhere else.”
Earlier this year, Mapledown School, in Claremont Road, Cricklewood, saw £45,000 slashed from its budget - but after a long campaign play activities were given a stay of execution for another year.
The parents are also being supported by Labour parliamentary candidate Sarah Sackman.
If the scheme is cut for good, Mrs Charles said 107 families could miss out on vital respite.
“How can we think about what would happen if they said no? We’d have to think of a plan b, whatever that may be.
“We want this reversed - not just for a year, but for good. We don’t want to have the same battle next year.”
Barnet Borough Council previously said it could not comment ahead of tonight’s meeting.
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