Supporters rally for 'vital' service

BRIDGET RAILTON
Last updated 05:00 01/05/2014

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Parents of children with disabilities in Invercargill are rallying to save a service they say is vital to the community.

The future of a specialist care programme for disabled children in Invercargill hangs in the balance after low attendee numbers cast doubt on its viability.

The Windmill Specialised Care programme; a holiday, weekend and after-school programme for children with autism, intellectual or physical disabilities, could be shut down due to a lack of numbers attending.

Access Home Support, which runs the programme, confirmed yesterday the service was being reviewed.

Access chief executive Graeme Titcombe said they were going through a consultation process to see if it was still viable.

"It's a matter of how many people are utilising the service.

"At the moment, there's no doubt there's not enough demand for the service."

However parents with children who attended the programme disagreed.

Riki Crosado, who has a daughter who attends the programme, said it was a vital service meeting the needs of many Invercargill families.

He had been told the programme was going to close this week by a close friend whose child also attends, and was concerned about the lack of communication.

He was going to try and get some "people power" behind the programme in order to try and save it, he said. "The Windmill programme is a great service to parents of special needs children in Invercargill. It has helped in so many ways," he said.

He was concerned powers were "hell bent" on closing what was good for the children, but if parents spoke up they could save it, he said. It was the only programme of its type in Invercargill and he believed it would be a real shame to lose it.

Others parents were supportive of his plans to try and save the service, he said.

Some parents were in a position to go out and seek other assistance if the programme was dis-established, but not all, he said.

Titcombe agreed it was a valuable programme for the Invercargill area, and if the review process did result in a closure, it would be a reluctant one.

At this stage they were still very much in the consultation process and no decision would be reached without input from all affected parties, he said.

The programme is funded by Access Home Support, which is funded by the Ministry of Health.

It has been running in Invercargill since 2010.

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