People with mental health problems kept in the dark after Link Centre closures

25 Mar 2024
Ilfracombe Link Centre

Vulnerable people in North Devon suffering with mental health problems are being kept in the dark about what happens now after the closure of drop-in centres in Barnstaple, Ilfracombe and Bideford.

On Wednesday, March 13, Devon County Council’s Conservative leadership voted to axe North Devon’s Link Centres.

The decision was called in for further scrutiny and questions were asked about what happens next for service users and who will be providing that care.

The Conservative leadership at the county council has failed to provide any detail on what future care for service users will look like and who will provide it.

North Devon’s link centres have offered crucial support to people with complex mental health issues for the last 30 years.

After a series of consultations on the service, in which fierce opposition to the closures were expressed to councillors and at demonstrations outside county hall, the council’s cabinet voted to close the centres.

Many residents have contacted the county councillor Ian Roome, concerned closures will lead to more hospital admissions and greater pressure on the NHS.

Councillor Ian Roome (Barnstaple North) said: “I find the lack of information on this really quite worrying. For 30 years these centres have been helping people with mental health problems. The Conservative cabinet is not taking into account the particular issues people here in rural North Devon face.

“At a time when the people across Devon and the wider UK struggle with a cost-of-living crisis and difficulty accessing NHS services, care for people suffering with mental health problems is more important than ever before.

“After three public consultations and a fierce backlash from the community the Conservatives in charge have just gone ahead with the closures as a cost saving exercise. The very least they can do is reassure service users that an alternative solution is in the works.”