Residents stage sit-in at threatened home

Residents at a social care residential unit are occupying their
care home in defiance of the managers, the Church of Scotland, one
of the largest care providers in the country.

Leslie House in Fife was one of nine care units marked for
closure by the Church of Scotland in April due to financial

Immediately relatives of the residents formed themselves into a
campaign group, the Leslie House 21 Group.

Campaigners claimed that their relatives had not been consulted,
that other ways of retaining Leslie House had not been explored and
that their relatives stood a risk of dying as a cause of any sudden
and unplanned change to their care. On behalf of the group, Ross
Vettraino, unsuccessfully petitioned the general assembly of the
Church of Scotland, the Church’s highest authority.

Now relatives and residents say that they will not move from
Leslie House in spite of the church’s planned closure date of
31 July. The campaigners have warned that they are prepared for a
lengthy stand-off until “the physical, mental and social well
being” of the older people is secured.

The church’s deputy director of social work, David
Kellock, said: “The decision to close Leslie House is that of the
Church’s Board of Social Responsibility. The decision is made
by them in private to avoid what could be unnecessary anxiety by
the service users and their families. Also, we have to bear in mind
the commercial implications that could be compromised if such a
decision was made openly.”

Kellock claimed the church had spent £832,000 on additional
revenue on Leslie House in the past five years, and £162,000
last year alone. Essential upgrading to Leslie House has been
estimated at £1.5 million.

The impasse has now forced the Church to consult the Scottish
Care Commission and Fife Council about what will happen if the
occupation persists.

The church and the campaign group are scheduled to meet on 13


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