A way forward is being considered urgently for adults with disabilities and their families after the charity Henshaws, which provides a range of educational, day support and residential services, has announced it will be withdrawing from its day and supported living services.
The County Council has been working with Henshaws in recent months to address operational and financial difficulties the charity has faced with its Harrogate Home Support service (which includes supported living, community support and personal care). The Council has been offering support to the charity to map out sustainable provision for these vital services.
Henshaws is a much-loved part of the community in the Knaresborough and Harrogate areas for its services for people with sight loss and other disabilities. More recently in common with many other charities, it has faced the service and financial consequences caused by Covid-19.
The County Council is disappointed that the charity has now decided to close its Arts and Crafts Centre day service in Knaresborough permanently, without any consultation.
The Centre, which caters for 160 people, many of whom have been attending the centre for many years, has been closed for both art makers and visitors since before lockdown but the charity has announced in recent days that it will not now re-open.
Richard Webb, North Yorkshire County Council Director of Health and Adult Services said:
We were surprised and disappointed to hear this news. Henshaws is much-valued by many people and, along with the other councils that fund people to use their services, we would have expected to have been involved in early discussions about this kind of momentous decision. We will work with the charity and with people who use the Arts and Craft centre, and their families, to see what might be possible in the future.
Harrogate Home Support includes 10 supported living properties in Harrogate, with capacity for 25 people, with 16 currently funded by the county council and the rest by other local councils. The service also provides community support to 11 people of which the county council funds 4 people.
Henshaws is to transition out of providing supported living housing for people with disabilities and special needs in Harrogate.
Nick Marr said:
Henshaws Home Support service was on a knife edge financially and the pressure on local authorities funding these and other places has increased. We are not able to sustain these services so we intend to transition out of providing them, at the latest, in October, to ensure the best continuity can be arranged for the service users. We will be consulting with staff in the service about the future of their roles.
Families have already been notified of Henshaws intention to withdraw from the service. Henshaws had given notice to North Yorkshire County Council in March that it was unable to continue the service from the beginning of June but was asked, because of the COVID-19 situation, to continue until the beginning of October and has been working with the county council to ensure a smooth transition.
The decision will affect about 21 residents, with a further three having already moved to different care providers. A further 16 people who are not residents receive support and those services will transition as well.
Families have now been notified of Henshaws’ intention to withdraw from the service and the County Council has also written to families to reassure them that it will work with them to find a sustainable solution for the people who are resident in supported living.
North Yorkshire County Council is seeking assurance from Henshaws about the sustainability of its other aspects of service.
Richard Webb added:
We know that families who use Henshaws’ Arts and Crafts Centre and Harrogate Home Care will be very concerned about the future.
The county council is working hard with all concerned to ensure that a sustainable way forward can be found.