Parents' tribute to care providers as push for new specialist facilities continues

Team Jamie at Hand in Hands Letchworth

Jamie Paterson and the team who will be providing care for him from Hand in Hands - bottom L & R is Linda Spicer and Tom Bayford who he already has as night carers, and top right Joanne Watson, Emily Sheaver, Hand in Hands director Michelle Dudderidge, Pupurayi Foto and Sue Kilday - Credit: Hand in Hands/Patersons

The parents of Jamie Paterson have paid tribute to those in the community who have stepped up to help their family as they continue to raise awareness of the need for more facilities for young people with severe disabilities in our area.

Jamie, 24, needs round the clock care but had been attending a day centre in Meldreth - where he got specialist care and could be around others with similar needs to his own.

Jim and Julie Paterson from Stevenage with their son Jamie who attends Aurora Orchard Manor's Skills Development Centre. 

Jamie Paterson with parents, Jim and Julie - Credit: Paterson family

Sadly, his final day at Orchard Manor Skills Development Centre was today, due to its closure.

The Patersons, from Stevenage, and others have been fighting to keep Orchard Manor Skills Development Centre open since they were told of the closure 10 weeks ago. Aurora, which runs the site in Meldreth for adults with severe disabilities, told parents that the closure was due to lack of demand, and government policy shift to inclusion within the community. 

Jamie's mum, Julie said: "It is a very sad time for all the staff, the young people and their families because we are entering a period of great change, and to some extent, 'the unknown'.

Team Jamie at Hand in Hands Letchworth

Jamie Paterson and the team who will be providing care for him from Hand in Hands - bottom L & R is Linda Spicer and Tom Bayford who he already has as night carers, and top right Joanne Watson, Emily Sheaver, Hand in Hands director Michelle Dudderidge, Pupurayi Foto and Sue Kilday - Credit: Hand in Hands/Patersons


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"At least some of the carers at the skills centre have been able to find employment either caring for some of the young people in their own homes, through direct payments.

"It still leaves our young people isolated though - they still need the company and social interaction of their peers.

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"We need a new centre for Jamie and his friends, and all the other disabled young people who attend schools like Lonsdale, Greenside and the Valley School in Herts."

The Patersons want to pay tribute to Dannie Westbury-Barnes, the manager and co-owner of Diamond Transport, who has provided Jamie with transport to and from Meldreth and helped them during the lockdowns. 

Julie continued: "During the lockdowns when we could not get a delivery slot from any supermarket, Dannie arranged for members of staff, Laura and Darren, to go each week to do our weekly shop for us.

"I also understand Dannie is stepping in to help the elderly and disabled of Stevenage.. She is just so thoughtful"

The Patersons also want to pay tribute to another lady, who has "a heart of gold".

Michelle Dudderidge is the director of care provider of Letchworth-based Hand in Hands,  which also runs a supported living project in Royston.

Julie said: "Michelle  come to our aid yet again by agreeing to provide carers to help us with Jamie's personal and day care.

"We have begun the gradual process of introducing a team of carers to Jamie, to work alongside Tom Bayford and Linda Spicer who already provide Jamie's waking night care, and they are all, like their boss absolutely wonderful people.

Tom Bayford and Linda Spicer provide Jamie Paterson's waking night care

Tom Bayford and Linda Spicer provide Jamie Paterson's waking night care and have a great relationship with him - others at Hand in Hands are now going to be part of Jamie's care team after the closure of Orchard Manor's skills centre. - Credit: Hand in Hands

"They helped us whenever we needed help during the lockdowns and  even sent us food hampers to boost our morale and spirits."

Hand in Hands director Michelle Dudderidge said: "We have been working with Jamie as night care for three-and-a-half years.

"During the lockdown the family lost the personal care for Jamie, and the respite care - and at this point we thought we have to do what we can to help.

"The team were so moved by Jamie's story - they have had training to move Jamie safely and feed him safely and give medication.

Team Jamie - Joanne Watson, Emily Sheaver, Hand in Hands director Michelle Dudderidge, Pupurayi Foto and Sue Kilday

Team Jamie - Joanne Watson, Emily Sheaver, Hand in Hands director Michelle Dudderidge, Pupurayi Foto and Sue Kilday. Hannah Watson, Aabs Alam are also part of Team Jamie - Credit: Hand in Hands

"They have been going in the last few weeks and shadowing the family to get to know them.

"Personal care was not something many of the team had done before, we're more about helping people to socialise and things.

""The family never stop smiling and it has touched the hearts of the staff. I am so proud of the team for stepping up.

"No one is more deserving of help and care and fingers crossed provision like what they had before can be found for Jamie and others in his situation."

"We have been supported by Herts County Council's 0-25 Together Service -  the support from them for us to put together this care package has been amazing."

Inga Hass, mum of another young adult - Jasmine - who attended the skills centre at Orchard Manor is petitioning for funding specifically for young people with severe disabilities and complex needs - in the hopes that more facilities will open up for them.


Letchworth's Inga Hass with Jasmine, who has complex disabilities and attends Aurora Orchard Manor in Meldreth

Inga Hass with daughter Jasmine - Inga has started a petition for allocated funding providing more facilities for people with severe disabilities. - Credit: Inga Hass

Go to https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/588916 to sign the petition if you haven't already. 

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