District News, April 16 2021

Jura Care Centre in Craighouse.

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Respite flat survives savings cull

Jura’s respite flat has been spared from plans to scrap the island care facility — despite concern it is not the best use of public money.

The decision — by a narrow majority — to keep it eventually came down to a casting vote at a virtual meeting of  the integration joint board (IJB) of Argyll and Bute Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) on Wednesday March 31 as members determined the coming year’s budget and looked at savings options.

A service level agreement for a mental health advocacy service in Argyll and Bute also survived.

Agreement as to whether or not to keep the Jura property open could not be reached when  a first vote ended in a draw.

Because of HSCP standing orders, the IJB’s chairperson, Oban North and Lorn independent councillor Kieron Green, did not have the casting vote but committee members finally opted to suspend those orders because of the unusual circumstances of the meeting being held online, and Councillor Green was able to cast that all-important vote.

Councillor Green came down on the side of Kintyre and the Islands Liberal Democrat councillor Robin Currie, who wanted to keep the Jura respite flat open.

Helensburgh Central Conservative councillor Gary Mulvaney had argued he did not feel it to be the best use of public money.

The meeting was told while it was discussing the issue, there were officials on Jura at the same time talking to the community on how respite care could move forward with the island’s support of helping to bring more money in.

The sum of money that could have been saved was £12,000 a year, the meeting heard.

The flat has been run as a joint project between the HSCP, West Highland Housing Association, which owns the building, and the Jura Community Care Group. There was mention the flat had not been used much for the purpose of respite for islanders.

However, a report before IJB members said the lack of consultation over it closing had caused community concern. The meeting was told there had been ‘a mix up’ over communicating what was happening with islanders.

Councillor Mulvaney said he did not feel the flat merited still being in the budget. ‘We should have saved this [the money] a number of years ago,’ he said.

Councillor Currie said: ‘The flat has been used, not much, but it has been used. Everyone is accepting it could have been advertised better.’

It was Mid Argyll councillor Sandy Taylor who asked for the service level agreement for the advocacy service to be spared from the savings option list as ‘a contribution to mental health.’


Taking five for mental wellbeing

People across Mid Argyll and Islay have had their mental health boosted thanks to the innovative ‘Take 5 Challenge’ which began in Kintyre.

Inspired by Campbeltown Tesco manager David Brown’s personal 5K-a-day challenge in 2020, mental health network ACUMEN, in conjunction with Kintyre Link Club, organised the initiative encouraging more people to ‘take five’ each day –  five minutes of walking, five deep breaths of fresh air or a five-kilometre walk or run – with the aim of boosting wellbeing.

After success in Kintyre, ACUMEN mental health development worker Sarah McFadzean rolled the challenge out across Mid Argyll and Islay, where people are encouraged to support one another in their challenges by way of a dedicated Facebook group.

Where possible, people have been able to meet in twos and, as restrictions change, it is hoped opportunities for groups to Take 5 together will increase as the initiative moves to the Oban, Lorn and the Isles area in June.

Sarah said: ‘Being involved and enjoying the challenge is as important as the activities themselves.

‘I would like to thank everyone who supported and got involved in Take 5 for their enthusiasm and assistance.

‘We are in the process of developing a Mental Health Forum and Lived Experience Group in the Mid Argyll, Kintyre and the Isles, the purpose of which will be to gather thoughts on current service provision, listen to others’ experiences and inform future planning, along with providing information from a range of services and peer support.’

For more information contact sarah.mcfadzean@acumennetwork