HUNDREDS of West Berkshire Mencap supporters are set to march on Market Street today to present a petition to West Berkshire Council in a bid to prevent cuts of £137,000 to children’s services and respite care.
Mencap are just one of the organisations who could be left out of pocket as part of the council's £10.8m first phase of cuts, which will be discussed and debated by councillors this evening.
The charity says would mean the end of the after school club, holiday play schemes, residential holidays, Saturday clubs and overnight breaks which its describes as a "lifeline" for families who have disabled children and children with learning disabilities.
It has been campaigning relentlessly ever since the council announced the proposals last year and now the charity hope that a 4,000 signature petition will persuade councillors to change their minds and overturn the decision.
Mencap's chief executive, Leila Ferguson, said: “It would seem that people making decisions don’t understand the immense pressures our families are under, and see no need to provide respite for families who have children with disabilities.
"We are also appalled by the lack of consultation on the matter for such a huge decision.
“West Berkshire Mencap supports the most complex and vulnerable of children who quite literally have no other respite options.
"These short breaks enable families to cope with day-to-day life and in most cases, enable them to spend quality time with their other children who are often overlooked."
Andrew Wood, whose daughter Ellie has learning and physical disabilities said: “West Berkshire Mencap provides a chance for us to have a degree of a normal life.
"When Ellie is at Saturday club, my son gets to have a friend around or a bike ride with dad – the kind of things every child should do. If this funding gets cut, this aspect of our life will go. The siblings are innocents in all of this.”