The campaign to save St Andrew’s ward, supported by Save Somerset’s Community Services, began over a year ago now on 29th Feb 2020, but the focus on saving St Andrew’s ward began in earnest on 24th September 2020, when the CCG announced, as expected, that the ward would be closed and the beds moved to Yeovil, in spite of the opposition of 52% of those who responded to the consultation run by “Fit for my Future”. The campaign is now starting to have an effect! Organiser Emma King says “We have been very pleased to note that the closure of the ward has now been put back to “no earlier than summer 2022”. We have also found that the CCG, under severe pressure from our campaign, has e-mailed councillors to put ‘their side of the story’, even though they fail to mention the results of the consultation (whilst making a lot of the fact a consultation was held). They also say they ‘never send anyone out of county for treatment’, but, if that is true, we know that people in crisis in the Bath and North East Somerset area are often sent hundreds of miles for treatment, when they could just travel the short distance to Wells if the facilities were available to them!”
Emma adds “We started the petition (http://chng.it/zf6Yd6g2) in September and now have 2327 signatures and still growing. We also held a march and rally in October in Wells and a day of action and suicide awareness in Wells in December. Since then, we have been visiting town and parish councils to encourage councils and councillors to write to the CCG opposing the closure. Furthermore, all the councillors in Somerset’s district and county councils have been contacted and MPs across the region. This closure is a Somerset- wide issue; when one rural area of Somerset loses its services, it affects us all and sets a precedent allowing other local services to also close. With the campaign continuing for another year, we will be keeping the petition open and encouraging people to continue to write to the CCG at firstname.lastname@example.org to express their opposition to this ill-thought out and very poorly timed closure. “
In order to keep the St Andrew’s ward closure in the spotlight, the Save Somerset’s Community Services Campaign are going to hold an awareness raising event at St John’s Church, High Street, Glastonbury on Sat 17th April 6,30-8pm . This will be done in small groups to comply with covid guidelines in place at this time. Supporters are asked to please wear a mask & observe social distancing.
Emma King adds “We are intending to emphasize the vital place that St Andrew’s ward plays in the framework of mental health services as a whole and we will be drawing attention to the fact that more people will die if the ward is closed. We will be holding a “die in” to emphasize suicide. To try and bring home the impact of suicide and to show respect to the memories of those who have died. We encourage everyone to bring their placards about the ward and a candle in a jar. We will sing ” Amazing Grace” and a number of people will lie down as if dead at the end of the demo and all the candles will be blown out to represent the lives lost. We would also like people to bring flowers for a shrine and each person who dies will hold a card to explain their death – “I fell through the cracks”, “I am a victim of the system”, “killed by cuts” and so on. We also intend to have helplines and information for people who may feel desperate at this very difficult time. I have also asked if anyone from the church could say a prayer, but a member of the public could do this instead if no one from the church is available.”