PM criticised on Mumsnet by mother of disabled child
- 20 January 2011
- From the section Bristol
The mother of a disabled child has criticised Prime Minister David Cameron saying he should do more to protect respite care for families like hers.
Riven Vincent, of Staple Hill, near Bristol, says she cannot cope and may put her disabled daughter into care. She said: "We are crumbling."
Ms Vincent posted a message on the Mumsnet website saying her council had said it could not provide more help.
The prime minister said he was "very concerned" and would write to her.
Ms Vincent's six-year-old daughter Celyn is blind, quadriplegic and has cerebral palsy and epilepsy.
David Cameron had visited Ms Vincent and her family at their home near Bristol during the general election campaign.
It was a private visit after she had spoken to him online in April 2010 during a Mumsnet discussion.
Ms Vincent posted a message on the website yesterday, saying she had contacted social services for respite help with her daughter but was told that none was available.
She said: "Have asked ss (social services) to take dd (dear daughter) into care.
"We get 6 hours respite a week. They have refused a link family. They have refused extra respite. I cant cope.
"I don't know how to email Dave now he's PM or I bloody would.
"I have called local MP Jack Lopresti too. I dont know what else to do."
Since her original post yesterday, at least 1,300 Mumsnet users have replied with messages of sympathy.
Ms Vincent said in a statement: "It's the last thing we want for her [Celyn] but we just can't see any other option.
"Caring for my daughter is relentless. She needs someone 24 hours a day. Caring takes over your whole life.
"Carers across the country are struggling the same way. It's not a new thing. It's been going on for years and no one government is to blame.
"I had hoped that after David Cameron came to visit me earlier this year following our exchange on Mumsnet, he would have done more to protect families like ours.
"The money the government has allocated for short breaks and respite care - £800m over four years - is not enough and worse still it's not going to be ring-fenced."
A Downing Street spokesman said: "The prime minister is very concerned at what he's heard.
"He's writing to Riven Vincent and in conjunction he's also asked her local MP for all the details of the case urgently.
"He's also asking the MP to speak to the local council to make sure that she's receiving all that she's entitled to."
A spokesman for South Gloucestershire Council said they had been supporting Ms Vincent and her family since Celyn was a baby and there had been no reduction in the care the council provided.
The spokesman said: "Needs were last reviewed in November 2010. However, Ms Vincent contacted the council yesterday to ask for further help. A meeting has been arranged to discuss her requirements."
'Facing 28% cuts'
He added: "We understand the difficulties facing parents of disabled children, particularly those with complex needs such as Celyn's.
"We recognise that there are times when difficulties can appear overwhelming and we hope that we can resolve the present difficulties in the best interest of the family."
The council said Ms Vincent's family received a range of services, including a full-time specialist school placement, individual support for Celyn, funding for additional help around the home, a respite service during the school holidays and overnight and music therapy.
Alex O'Dwyer, from the disabled charity Scope, said: "Some local authorities are facing up to 28% cuts and we know that disabled people and their families are proportionately much more reliant upon social care and those services.
"We're also concerned because there is some money that's been put aside that David Cameron talks about for respite care, but that hasn't been ring-fenced, so councils can actually choose to spend that money elsewhere.
"Fundamentally I think they don't actually understand the reality of the lives of some families with disabled children."