Why we have to save Somerset’s Learning Disabilities service

In April, Learning Disabilities services in Somerset are set to be handed over from Somerset County Council (SCC) to a new Somerset Social Enterprise. UNISON is concerned that this is a money-saving exercise which will shift the focus away from care and onto cost.

Martyn Krajniewski is a Support Leader at Colliers Court, Frome and has worked within Learning Disabilities Services for 31 years. He reflects on his time spent in the role working for Somerset County Council.

Why I like working in Learning Disabilities Services

Working with customers of all abilities gives you a different outlook on life. They are fun to be with; they give you a better understanding of yourself and how things are in their life.

The centres provide a wide range of activities, indoor and outdoor, for all our customers of all abilities and being part of a professional team that provides this, for me, gives a wonderful feeling of achievement for both the staff and customers. I really enjoy working with a professional team that creates a happy, friendly and secure environment for everyone.

As it is at the moment, I like having the benefits and the security of working for Somerset County Council. I know it’s going to change. The team has worked hard to have an excellent support and trusting relationship with each other and our customers and parents and private cases.  I’m pleased to be part of this team.

What I like about working under the present provider, Somerset County Council

Staff and service users seem to be better protected under Somerset County Council where the staff training is very good and policies and procedures work well. I feel that the public perception of public services, as not profit led, is better than from the private sector.

As a local employer, I feel that Somerset County Council is aware of the particular issues which are faced within the region.  Above all SCC is an organisation with a proven history of care and support that parents and carers, some of whom have been let down by private agencies, can trust.”

Preserving consistent staffing levels and a high level of care can only be ensured by maintaining current terms and conditions for all members of learning disabilities (LD) staff. UNISON are calling on service users, their carers and families as well as LD staff to sign a petition demanding that, ‘Learning Disabilities staff are kept on one set of terms and conditions.’

On 15 February members of LD services will be attending the Somerset County Council Meeting at County Hall, Taunton to present the petition to the Council. UNISON are encouraging members of the public to attend the meeting to demonstrate support for keeping the focus of Learning Disabilities Services in Somerset on care, not cost.

If you would like to sign the petition, are interested in attending the council meeting or would like more information about the transfer in LD services please contact UNISON local organiser Daniel Waghorn via d.waghorn@unison.co.uk or 07903 846415.