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14th Jun, 2021

'Indispensable' Solihull disabled support charity collapses despite campaign

Felix Nobes 5th Sep, 2019 Updated: 6th Sep, 2019

A SOLIHULL charity that supported more than 1,700 disabled people has collapsed despite a campaign to save it.

As we reported, DIAL had for years received funding as part of a Citizens Advice Solihull Borough (CASB) contract with Solihull Council. But in April it was awarded to Age UK instead and a Community Advice Hub replaced it.

It lost all its council funding – about £114,000 – and has been facing closure for months despite a fight to keep what its users described as an ‘indispensable’ service.

Its board said yesterday: “The trustees of DIAL Solihull are very sad to announce that the organisation will shortly be wound up.

“Last year the organisation was unsuccessful in its bid with CASB regarding the Community Wellbeing Services Tender.

“As a result the organisation is no longer sustainable.

“The board of trustees do not believe that The Community Advice Hub is meeting the needs of disabled people in Solihull and they are disappointed that the concerns of a considerable number of DIAL’s previous clients are not being adequately addressed.

“The trustees firmly believe this is a shortsighted approach and will be detrimental to the wellbeing of disabled people in Solihull.

“Our chief executive (Alice Singleton) would like to send her warmest wishes to all of our clients past and present.”

Bosses confirmed no services will be provided beyond September 30, when DIAL will cease trading.

The charity was served an eviction notice by the council to vacate its fully accessible premises in The Parade, Kingshurst, by April 1.

But the council then agreed to allow DIAL to stay in its premises rent free for 12 months.

A series of impassioned pleas to support the service from residents, councillors and former users was published in the Solihull Observer.

The campaign saw more than 50 people protest outside Solihull Council House, 150 attend a public meeting, and pleas delivered in the council chamber from former service users.

One of those users was Peter Fanning, who sat in his modified wheelchair, while someone spoke for him as he is unable to speak for himself.

He said DIAL saved his life after it was decided he would not be resuscitated after being taken ill, until one of the charity’s advocates stayed by his side and arranged for him to be resuscitated if necessary.

Paul Chambers, 54, from Shirley, who also has epilepsy causing regular seizures, told us DIAL was vital in preventing ‘disability discrimination’ in the borough – and helped him when he was not being provided the benefits he was entitled to.

DIAL bosses claimed it had a 100 per cent record of success on appeal for benefit payments claims.

Council chiefs have always insisted that none of the services DIAL provided would be lost, and the new Community Advice Hubs would be wider reaching.

There are two advice hubs, one in Chelmsley Wood Library and the other in The Core.

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