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Unions GMB and UNISON are warning Plymouth could lose its only short breaks respite service for families of children with complex needs.

Up to 18 families in the city currently access the registered Children’s Home to provide essential respite support. All of the children who use the service have severe and complex needs.

It was recently reported that due to “staff shortages” the facility is temporarily closed, but unions warn there is an “existential risk” to the service.

Matt Roberts from the GMB Union said: “We believe it is now in the public interest to raise the very real risk that this service could soon be lost. In reality, the staffing issue is only in relation to the manager role. There are 15 staff available who can fully maintain the service, who could be at risk of losing their jobs if the manager situation is not resolved soon. It would be a travesty if the families that use the service lose their respite care, and we are calling on Plymouth City Council as the commissioning authority to step in, and if necessary, directly take on the service and its staff.”

Kevin Treweeks from UNISON said: “We are making a stand for the staff and parents that this service needs to be protected and maintained. Our members have worked hard to keep the service open for the children and their families throughout the Covid pandemic, and the service provider and commissioning agents must now act to preserve the long term future of short-term respite care in Plymouth. It is right to stand up for the most vulnerable in our city and the carers who are our unsung heroes.”

The service is currently temporarily closed until 28th April according to Governors.