TWENTY elders, including a world war two war veteran and two 90 year olds, are staging a hunger strike in a protest against Glasgow City Council plans to relocate them miles away from their homes at the Mel-Milaap Day Care Centre in Glasgow city centre to a temporary location on the city’s southside....
Glasgow City Council Social Services Department plans to relocate the Mel-Milaap Elderly Day Care Service to Merrylee Lodge on the southside of the city until a new custom-built building is constructed. The veterans argue that they should be left where they are until the new facility is available.
The Mel-Milaap Day Care Centre, based in Berkeley Street, Charing Cross Glasgow, provides culturally sensitive services to a multicultural community, the majority of whom are first generation elders from an Asian background. One of the elders, Darbara Singh Bhullar, served in Burma and Singapore for the British army in World War II. Two of the users are over 90 years of age.
Sandra White MSP for Glasgow Kelvin (SNP), convener of the cross-party group in the Scottish Parliament on older people, age and ageing, said: “I’m very disappointed that the social services department at Glasgow City Council is not having further meetings with Gurdwara and Mel-Milaap as all they’re asking for is an extension of a few weeks to address the issues raised.
“Mel-Milaap is well-loved, well-used and well known within the community: older people receive a great service there and it’s also located next to their places of worship, which is very important to them.
“I’ve been in Mel-Milaap on numerous occasions and would suggest that the warmth that is apparent as soon as you walk through the door cannot be replicated in any other building, so I plead with Glasgow City Council’s social work department to give them the extension they’ve requested to allow them to put forward a solution to the issues that have been raised.”
Anoop Wallia, of The Mel-Milaap Community Centre, said: “The close proximity of the Sikh and Hindu temples further enhances the older persons’ spiritual wellbeing, which has considerable significance and life meaning for them as members of a minority community.
“A consultation was conducted by Social Services with the service users, some of whom suffer from dementia and did not fully understand what was proposed and why. The reasons given for Glasgow City Council’s decision relate to existing health and safety issues, which the owners of the property have agreed to rectify without delay.
“The proposed alternative property has no kitchen facilities, which means that fresh food can no longer be cooked and provided to users, who say that the travel time would be extremely uncomfortable as most of them live in the North West area of the city.”
Over the past twenty years the Mel-Milaap Day Care Centre has evolved into a family friendly unit, with many of its users having attended since its opening, helping to promote a secure and happy environment. The average user age is over 80 years old, with some 28 elders attending the Centre on a daily basis.
Health concerns, including a high incidence of coronary heart disease and diabetes, affect many of the users from this centre. These diseases are more prevalent in this group compared with individuals from a non-Asian background.
A range of activities are provided to service users, including: health advice; social activities and outdoor programmes. Fresh vegetarian food is provided daily from the purpose-built kitchen facility in accordance with the needs of the users.
As well as the hunger strike, the elderly users have organised a petition with 1500 signatures. There is also a demonstration planned on Wednesday 16th October, by the Association of Indian Organisations.
ENDS For further information please contact Anoop Wallia on 07850 343404 Issued on behalf of the Mel-Milaap Day Care Centre by Liquorice Media tel 0141 297 1699 www.liquorice-media.com Date: 10th October 2013