Respite centre idea for Honiton's 'invisible hero' carers snubbed in favour of children's services

PUBLISHED: 16:59 01 August 2019 | UPDATED: 09:10 05 August 2019

St Michael's centre in Honiton. Ref mhh 3417-28-15SH. Picture: Simon Horn

St Michael's centre in Honiton. Ref mhh 3417-28-15SH. Picture: Simon Horn


Additional children's health and social care services will be moved into a Honiton facility - despite calls to transform part of it into a respite centre.

Devon County Council said there are plans to bring in 'frontline' services at St Michael's Centre, dashing hopes of the venue being put to alternative use.

Honiton mayor Councillor John Zarczynski has led calls to set up a respite centre at centre in Orchard Way before 'today's pensioners' become 'tomorrow's vulnerable'.

Councillor Zarczynski has been fighting to introduce the facility for the town's 'invisible hero' home carers for the last year and a half.

However, a Devon County Council spokesman said this week: "Unfortunately we are unable to offer the site for alternative use as we are looking to move additional frontline children's health and social care services into the St Michael's Centre."

The council said it was unable to provide more details about the move.

Cllr Zarczynski said he was close to agreeing a deal last year, which would have seen half of St Michaels' Centre be transformed into a respite centre.

He said the move ground to a halt after Devon County Council opted to turn the vacant space into offices.

The rest of St Michael's Centre is used by the Honiton 55+ Centre, a day centre launched by Cllr Zarczynski and his deputy, Jackie Wadsworth, in 2015.

Cllr Zarczynski said the vacant half of St Michael's was perfect for a respite centre, as the entire building used to operate one many years ago. He said: "There are a lot of home carers of all ages in Honiton that we are not even aware of.

"They battle on every day and it would be good for them to know they have somewhere local that can drop off a loved one.

"The problem we have is that, fortunately, people are living longer. But we are not looking far ahead to provide the provisions for people who will find themselves vulnerable in the not-too-distant future."

Cllr Zarczynski said while many people can rely on family to care for them, some will find themselves on their own.

He said Honiton has a duty to be a 'caring, civilised society' and look ahead to an issue he dubbed a 'ticking time bomb'.

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