Cuts will see me more depressed

27/10/2011'John Haynes of Hemel Hempstead
27/10/2011'John Haynes of Hemel Hempstead

A MAN who has been relying on a mental health drop-in service for more than 20 years fears for the future after learning it faces the axe.

John Haynes, of Livingstone Walk in Hemel Hempstead, is worried his depression will get worse if the sessions he attends three times a week are shut.

Care chiefs are currently consulting on plans to close day services and instead hand cash to those who qualify to spend for themselves under ‘personal budgets’.

John, 62, said: “It will make me feel more depressed. I’ll have nowhere to go – just sitting and looking at four walls. It’s bad news for a lot of people.”

John currently goes to the drop-in in Alexandra Road and St Mary’s Church, along with around 16 others, where they meet to chat, play pool and take part in classes.

Herts County Council and Herts Partnership Foundation Trust (HPFT) are consulting on the changes – part of a package predicted to produce savings of £22 million over the next three years – and a final decision is expected in January.

A fact sheet handed to service users says: “The proposed changes in the way day opportunities are provided in the future, if approved, will involve winding down day opportunity services run by HPFT, once people have been supported to find alternatives. At the same time, new services will start up in the community and we will ensure that this is handled as smoothly and as sensitively as possible.”