What was Mayor Anderson and Cllr Roz Gladden’s response to a campaign to save the Liveability service?
Above are three women protesting in the rain before the Liverpool City Council budget meeting last week.
As the slogans are hard to read on the resized photos they are (from left to right), “LIVEABILITY for old, lame, sick, obese, lonely, confused. Don’t cut us off”, “It’s false economy to cut Liveability” and “LIVEABILITY helps us to help ourselves and saves money”.
Before the meeting I’d not heard of Liveability, but according to Liverpool City Council’s website it’s “a nurse led service that promotes the health and independence of people aged 50 and over”.
There were plenty of people apart from the three in the photo above that turned up to express their support for it.
Liverpool City Council meetings have a public question time/petitions/statements slot which was used by a campaigner against closure of the Liveability service. Second to speak during this slot was a Sue Carmichael. You can watch what Sue said below.
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Liverpool City Council Budget meeting 2nd March 2016 (public question time/statement/petition item)
Sue Carmichael (pictured below on the right) said, “Lord Mayor, Mayor Anderson, elected members, thank you for the opportunity to speak on behalf of the newly formed Liveability Action Group.
We have a petition with over 550 signatures which I’ll hand over now.
We very much welcome the great achievements for a city under your leadership and we also understand the impact of nationally imposed cutbacks on the city’s finances.
Our action group was formed last Thursday and over two hundred attended. We are all deeply shocked by the summary destruction of this award-winning NHS-led, nurse-led service and there’s no consultation about options. It was all done completely by stealth from our point of view.
We believe it’s an ill-considered decision halfway through Liverpool’s decade of health and wellbeing.
The Liveability service is fifteen years old and it’s for the physical and mental health and well-being of people over fifty, but most are in their sixties to nineties. Only about ten per cent are in their fifties.
The 1,500 registered members, there are 500 users each week with 24 brilliant volunteers who help. There are about twenty different sessions including a chair based one and ones for those with dementia and their carers. Plans were already in place to roll the scheme out elsewhere because we know how important it is.
Most users have acute or chronic conditions or mobility issues, or like myself have had major surgery of chemotherapy and Liveability has been part of our recovery.
Many live alone or are housebound carers. The twenty-four volunteers are critical to the service’s success. They are welcoming, they support the staff, they make drinks in the cafe and arrange social events and trips. There is a 50+ charity which also fund raises alongside.
Liveability is much more than exercise. It’s an informal village hub, where we meet different people on different days thereby extending our social contact as well as getting physically healthy. The social aspect is crucial.
It’s won many awards deservedly, been on national TV and even been visited by the Department of Health.
The proposed annihilation will be a cruel blow. Many say Liveability is a lifeline for them.
We’ve just heard earlier on today, there is a surprise announcement that there will be a new 50+ exercise program being city-wide, that is most welcome.
But this instant replacement cannot reinvent Liveability, the nurse led service, mainly for those in their sixties to nineties. It’s a unique city health and well-being asset. We must save it!
The fifteen years worth of staff, volunteer and user experience is available to build on. Liveability certainly ain’t broke so don’t fix it by killing it off.
Mayor Anderson, please abandon this hasty and cruel decision done in such a surprisingly underhand way without consultation. Liveability’s experience and success is there to use. Let’s jointly find an intelligent way to do this.
Keep Liveability and roll it out across the city, it’s really magic. Thank you.”
In response to what Sue Carmichael said there was applause.
A heckler shouted, “Shame on you!”
The Lord Mayor of Liverpool Cllr Concepcion said, “Mayor Anderson, would you like to respond?”
Mayor Anderson replied, “Lord Mayor, I just want to make one comment and then if it’s ok for you, I’ll just hand over to the Cabinet Member who can explain what we’re doing and why the decision has been made but we’re more than happy, I’ve been to the Liveability scheme and I’m more than happy to meet with people that are using the scheme to explain why we’re doing and what we’re doing. We’ve lost a huge amount of funding and this … fit for purpose and ready to replace the existing one, but as I said, I’ll let Cllr Gladden explain a little bit more.”
Cllr Roz Gladden (Cabinet Member for Adult & Children’s Social Care & Health) responded by saying, “Can I first of all thank you for the amazing campaign that you’ve brought together in such a small amount of time?
You know one of the sadnesses of being the Cabinet Member for Social Care is watching over a six-year period cuts happen to the service and very few people have actually complained about it, so I honour the fact that you care so much about your service that you’ve come out to campaign for it. So thank you for doing that.
Lot’s of people think that public health do nice wooly things like making sure you eat salad, not put sugar in and don’t eat cake and things like that but I think these cuts have proved, cuts to public health have proved that actually they do really important services such as the Liveability services, such as looking after people who are homeless, the rough sleepers and those with drug addiction problems and naturally as an Authority we have to take care of those who are most vulnerable. That’s not to say that you aren’t of course, but we’ve had £2.9 million of council cuts within this financial year and next year we’ve got a further cut of £7 million just to the public health budget. They are government cuts, they are not imposed by us, they are cuts directly to the public health service.
And what we’ve decided to do, what we have done is we’ve been looking for some time now as a physical activity strategy that will be announced later this year, but we are running this, three centres across the city.
I don’t know where you’ve been looking to roll this out across the city. I visited Liveability three years ago. I’ve been trying to negotiate, my officers have to try and get the Liveability model because we value it rolled out across the city. That’s not happened and I can’t, I don’t want a service that just operates in Austin Rawlinson, I want to see it where people in the north of the city and the centre of the city can benefit from it too because I think it’s really important.
So that’s what we’re going to do and we’re going to ask you how you think we can do that for the rest of the city? This won’t be excluding you, we will include your knowledge and your experience in how this services works really expertly in how we can do it. So I welcome you, I welcome on board this. We will come along to you, I will meet with you next week and we’ll carry on from there. So thank you so much for coming along tonight, I really do appreciate it, thank you.”
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