TWELVE SPECIALIST clubs across Wiltshire have learned their funding from Wiltshire Council is to end, leaving some facing the threat of closure in just three months.

Letters were sent out on Monday informing the specialist day service clubs, which provide support for disabled and vulnerable people, the news.

The grant withdrawal applies to Monday Wednesday Club, Trowbridge; Chippenham Gateway; Devizes and District Association for Blind & Partially Sighted; Devizes and District Association for Disabled; Devizes and District Association PHAB; Devizes Wednesday Club; Kennet Gateway Club; New Road Centre, Marlborough; Tuesday Club, Malmesbury; Lifestyles Wessex Ltd, Redworth Club and Elizabeth House, Salisbury.

The New Road Centre has been open for 30 years and welcomes around 55 users a week. Chairman Deborah Bond said: “The news is a complete bombshell. A lot of people don’t yet know and need to understand that we haven’t been given any more information. Our clients can’t just get on the bus and go to the cinema on their own. They need this centre because it provides them with a reason to get out and have interaction with the centre, which is like their family. Wiltshire Council think that we are just going to go away but we are going to fight this. These people don’t have anything else, we are like a family. I have already had parents of some of the disabled people come up to me in tears because they don’t know what is going to happen.

“The staff have been brilliant and said we don’t mind about us, let’s just make sure there is something for our clients.

“I don’t want to scare anyone but at the moment I cannot guarantee anything.

“Ever since we got the letter I have been trying to speak to Wiltshire Council but all I get is answerphones. The way Wiltshire Council has gone about this is brutal and cruel. The community is devastated.”

A Wiltshire Council spokesman said: “Due to the increased demand for our statutory frontline services we have made the difficult decision to end awarding grants to specialist day service clubs from May 31. The centres do great work and this was a decision not taken lightly.

“We are looking to talk to the providers and those using the service to shape a new provision for the future and we are in contact with the services affected to respond to any questions and concerns they may have.

“There are many other organisations who provide grants, and our local area boards consider grant applications for funding that specifically benefits local communities.”

Carla O’Shaughnessy’s son Joe has been visiting New Road centre in Marlborough for two years. Joe has learning disabilities and cerebral palsy and attends Rowdeford School near Devizes.

She said the day centre, which he attends for three days a week, has helped him grow in confidence and transformed his life. She said: “If the day centre were to close, it is not an understatement to say that it would destroy lives. My son had no friends before going and now he has come on leaps and bounds because the day centre. Before he went to the centre he was my shadow, it was too much for me and not right for him. Now he has more independence. As a parent of a disabled child you get used to fighting your whole life. I had accepted that the day centre was all that Joe had and that could be taken away.”