William Simpson's care home to open doors to women
- 9 June 2010
- From the section Tayside and Central Scotland
MSPs have voted to allow women to benefit from a Stirlingshire care home that has been restricted to men since it opened 150 years ago.
The William Simpson's Home in Plean looks after men with drink-related mental health problems.
It was established in 1864 to help older men with links to the armed forces.
The charity needed an act of parliament to change its rules so it could offer help to women and the under-40s.
The institution said in January it wanted to respond to increasing demands to its services.
New laws were needed to make the changes because the home was set up under an act of parliament.
A Holyrood committee was formed to look at the issue and convener Shirley-Anne Somerville told MSPs: "The restrictions placed on the trustees of the home are considerable.
"Apart from the restriction on those who can benefit from the home's services, we learned that the 1864 Act places restrictions on those who can become trustees of the home.
"The bill is necessary to allow the home to introduce modern governance arrangements and to expand the service provided by the home to a wider range of users."
The home provides specialist residential accommodation for up to 44 users with alcohol-related brain damage and poor mental health, as well as respite and daycare services for another 16 people.
Witnesses told the committee in evidence that increasing numbers of younger women and men, including those in their 30s, are developing alcohol-related dementia.
The home was originally created as an "asylum for indigent men of advanced age".
Local landowner Francis Simpson of Plean gifted his estate to trustees in 1829 to establish an asylum in memory of his son, William, who was lost at sea while serving in the Navy in the early 1800s.
Simpson had been struck by the needs of ex-servicemen who had returned from conflict, but had nowhere to live.
The home has maintained its strong links with former service personnel.