CONCERNED families fighting to save a ‘live-saving’ respite service have described staff at a local centre as being ‘like family’.
The Cherries is a respite facility for disabled children across the Observer area which offers more to parents than a quiet night.
But it is under a review of services by the NHS, which has said it is struggling to staff the facility.
Anxious parents say they would be ‘devastated’ if it were to close, and have set up an online petition to campaign, which already has more than 620 signatures.
There are 21 families currently using The Cherries, which is a five bedroom, purpose built respite facility in Chichester.
Thirteen-year-old Megan Taylor has epilepsy, severe learning difficulties, and cerebral palsy.
She really looks forward to her trips to The Cherries, as they give her a chance to spend some time with other teenagers, while giving her, and her mother a break from each other.
Emma Taylor, Megan’s mother said: “Megan has been going to The Cherries for about seven years. She absolutely loves it there.
“We can’t drive up the road to The Cherries unless she is actually going there because she gets so excited and then so upset!
“She has been going to Fordwater School since she was two so it is such a familiar environment for all of us.
“I am so happy to leave her in the capable hands of all the staff. I don’t have any family in this country, but the staff at The Cherries are like my family. They don’t work a normal day, they are there whenever I need them, if I ever have any problems.
“They have helped and supported me through the tougher times, and they know exactly how to cope with Megan. We all trust them implicitly, and are happy to leave our children in their care.
“It would be devastating if we were to lose The Cherries, and I don’t know what we would do. We are so worried because it takes our children a lot of time to adjust to other people.
“It would be so tragic considering that a beautiful sensory garden was built only last year. What a waste.
“The Cherries is perfect for families and children – within close walking distance of Fordwater School.
She added: “I understand the NHS has said all along that if the service has to close, this would not be the end of the respite service offered to us.
“But we are so worried because it takes our children a lot of time to adjust to other people, and to have someone looking after your child in your house is very different.
“I am anxious because Megan has a lot of medication, and she needs a properly trained nurse to administer it. So many places would not take Megan because they just don’t have the staff to look after her. If these places can’t find the staff, where are we supposed to find them?”