A protest is taking place this evening at Hendon Town Hall with a parallel online rally, to defend the jobs of ninety-three workers at Apthorp care home.
Last month, care staff working at Apthorp residential and day care service were told that Barnet Council had made the decision to close the facility, hitting 93 staff as well as the vulnerable older people for whom the home provides services. Apthorp was originally owned by Barnet Council until it was sold off with 10 other Council residential homes and day services to Catalyst Housing who contracted Fremantle Trust to take over the Council care workforce.
The current Apthorp buildings were part of a deal which meant Catalyst Housing were given all 11 real estate locations to develop for themselves and in return they would provide modern state of the art residential and day care services on four of the sites.
Only three were built.
A letter from their employer told staff that:
the Council and Your Choice Barnet have taken the decision to vacate Apthorp Care Home by 31 October 2021. You will be aware that we have been carrying out some fire safety works in the building. Whilst all emergency works have been carried out, further surveys have taken place which highlight that significant levels of repairs are needed. The scope of works required in Apthorp Care Centre are extensive and would be extremely disruptive to residents of the home.
At the meeting some staff responded to this devastating news by claiming that moving vulnerable residents from Apthorp to another home at this time will result in ‘blood on someone’s hands‘ because many residents wouldn’t react well to the move.
The dangers of moving vulnerable and elderly residents out of their homes have been well documented, but Barnet Unison says that what is particularly worrying about this plan is that Barnet Council are attempting to fast-track the move of residents in less than two months which does not provide adequate time to prepare and support vulnerable residents.
Barnet Unison branch secretary John Burgess said of the decision:
Two decades to run down a service, wasted millions of public monies and now 93 Covid heroes are to be sacked.
The world is upside down, seriously it is less than 12 months since our members were trying to care for vulnerable residents struggling to deal with Covid. There was no vaccine back then and the lack of PPE was an issue for members who were risking their own lives and those of their own family every day they went into work.
I won’t forget the fear in the voices of care workers as Covid was letting rip across Care homes. I can never begin to understand the terror our members were going through every day and all for the magnificent sum of £8.72 per hour! So here we are now August 2021 and our members have been told their workplace is closing, through no fault of their own.
Barnet UNISON will be supporting every single one of our members at this time we will also be seeking to find out who made this decision and why, this is not over. Keep watching this space…”
Unison branch chair Helen Davies added:
The workers at the care home and day centre will have their lives thrown up in the air some few months after banners at the care home proclaimed them as heroes for how they dealt with the pandemic. There has been absolutely NO engagement with staff, residents, their families or the trade unions at any point to consider how Apthorp could be made viable. The cornerstone of activism for people with disabilities – nothing about us without us – has been utterly and completely ignored.
The elderly and the workforce are ignored and presumably they are just furniture to be moved around as The Great and The Good see fit. They are not worthy of any consideration. They have received no apology for this shocking turn of affairs.
The lobby starts at 6pm outside Hendon Town Hall, finishing by 7 pm. If you’re unable to make it to Hendon, you can join the Save Apthorp care home lobby on Zoom from 5.45pm via https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88230246920?pwd=L1ZNa1FWellMYVpRWW1zc0ZpbzI0dz09. Meeting ID: 882 3024 6920
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