Owen Lewis has been campaigning to save the day centre based in Tudor Street in Abergavenny since the end of 2022. The building closed at the beginning of the pandemic and has remained closed ever since. Here he explains to us about his campaign to keep it open and functioning as a space for vulnerable members of the community.
“I worked at the centre throughout the 2010s, for a scheme called My Day My Life. We supported adults with learning difficulties and mental health issues in individual and group activities. One of the most important aspects of this was the person-centred approach – it was all self-chosen by the service-users themselves. Some of the activities were based within the building, others out in the community, but Tudor Street was the base from where we could develop and organise the activities and events for the vulnerable adults that we supported. We also assisted them to get jobs, both paid and voluntary.
In November, I was informed that Monmouthshire County Council was to sell the building. I immediately contacted everyone I could think of to voice my concerns. I set up an online petition (which at the time of writing has almost 1,000 signatures) and organised a protest outside the building to help give the vulnerable adults a chance to raise their voices and have them heard. Through talking to them, I found out that too many of them had not been sufficiently supported through the pandemic or when coming out of it.
Our protest managed to make the council call in their initial decision. I have since been attending scrutiny meetings, where I have learned that the decision to close Tudor Street day centre ought to have been a full cabinet decision. This was not the way the decision had been reached, in spite of overwhelmingly strong opinions in favour of not selling it.
There is an ongoing review into the My Day My Life Scheme, however, anecdotally I am told by many service-users that they have not been party to a review, and those that have find it lacking in scope and ability to identify the type of service that is needed.
I have pitched to the council a new scheme for the Tudor Street building, entitled The Gathering – a place that could provide activities, education, safety and wellbeing for everyone in the community, maintaining a focus on the most vulnerable adults. This idea has so far proven very popular and we await the outcome of the review in order to be able to discuss it more thoroughly as a proposal.
Whatever the outcome is, I feel strongly that the building needs to remain dedicated to helping the most vulnerable people of our community. There are no other places in Abergavenny that could provide such a good selection of opportunities, with appropriate disability access and facilities.”
If you would like to sign the petition please go to https://www.change.org/p/save-the-hub-at-tudor-street-abergavenny
Owen Lewis has recently completed a novel based on his experiences working in care. Vulnerable Voices, by Owen B Lewis available from Amazon and all good book retailers