Loss of meeting place 'destroying' human rights of disable people

Campaigners protested a change of use of the Moray Resource Centre meaning they can no longer meet there.

Loss of Moray Resource Centre meeting place ‘destroying’ human rights of disable people STV News
Representatives of 21 Moray disabled groups who took their campaign to Elgin High Street

Disabled groups are consulting human rights lawyers over the withdrawal of a publicly-owned meeting place in Moray.

On Saturday, campaigners representing hundreds of people aired their frustration with a street protest in Elgin.

They claim there was no consultation about a change of use of the Moray Resource Centre in Maisondieu Road after Covid struck.

Health chiefs insisted they offered help to secure alternative premises.

Moray Resource CentreSTV News
Moray Resource Centre

Speaking during a two-hour demonstration in Elgin High Street, Sylvia Stobbart of Moray Duo – which established use of the nearby resource centre for regular meetings – said: “All these people are disabled.

“They all have sensory and physical disabilities. They’re all struggling with mental health.

“They were all impacted with Covid and they’ve all been impacted since because we haven’t been able to get together for peer to peer support which is what we offered at the resource centre.”

Echoing that, Irena Paterson of the Moray Disability Forum claimed the decision had effectively “destroyed” the human rights of members of 21 disability groups in the region.

“They’re treating us like something that’s crawled from under a stone,” she said. “We’re not. We’re human beings, with rights.”

In a statement, Health and Social Care Moray said it appreciated that “a small number of community groups” wished to resume use of the centre as a meeting place.

However, a spokesperson said: “There is no longer space available in the building to accommodate their activities.”

The body said the centre was being “fully utilised” to provide a day service for vulnerable people with a high level of care and support needs.

Since November last year, a Monday to Friday day service has operated at the complex. It also provides unpaid carers the opportunity to take a break from their caring role.

The centre continues to operate within Covid infection prevention and “at this time, it is not possible to open up the use of the building to other groups in the evenings or at weekends when the day service is not running,” according to the statement.

It said all community groups using the facility prior to the pandemic were informed last summer that they would be unable to return to the building “and were offered support to explore alternative venues”.

However, a claim by Health and Social Care Moray that all groups had found alternative premises was dismissed by campaigners as untrue.

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