Date Thurs 16 June 2011
UNISON sounds alarm bells over cuts to secure units for vulnerable
UNISON Scotland is urging the Government to think again about
its plans to cut funding to the country’s secure units for children.
The union, Scotland’s largest union in the community and voluntary
sectors, said the move will hit some of the country’s most vulnerable
young people and leave more than 250 dedicated staff facing
The Scottish Government is expected to announce tomorrow (Friday)
that it will maintain contracts with only four of the country’s
five voluntary sector-run secure units, with St Philip’s, in
Plains, expected to have its ‘preferred bidder’ status withdrawn.
This would leave the unit – one of three units run by the Cora
Foundation – and its 259 staff, almost certainly facing closure.
It would also leave the 18 young men who reside in the unit
facing an uncertain future.
This year is the first that the secure units have been asked
to tender for the contracts as part of a government cost-cutting
exercise. During a review of the secure unit estate, the Government
outlined that only four of the five secure units would receive
‘preferred bidder’ status, which allows facilities to receive
referrals from the courts and Children’s Panel.
The union is urging the Scottish Government to think again
about the needs of these vulnerable young people and to restore
funds to care for and support them properly.
Simon Macfarlane, regional organiser with UNISON, said: “These
units are staffed by highly trained, committed and caring staff
who offer unique support and care for vulnerable young people
while maintaining community safety.
"If the Justice Secretary is serious about wanting to
reduce the number of young people, particularly men, that end
up in Scotland’s prisons then it doesn’t make any sense to cut
a unit that has the expertise and experience to work with vulnerable
and challenging young people and help them back on the right
“Our members work hard to provide these services and we are
calling on the Scottish Government to think again and to put
the needs of these vulnerable young people first. We want the
Government to discuss a way forward which ensures that the skills
and expertise of these staff are not lost and that this vital
service is maintained.”
Notes to editors There are seven secure units in Scotland,
two of which are run by local authorities in Dundee and Edinburgh.
The remaining five – St Mary’s Kenmure in Bishopbriggs; Good
Shepherd in Bishopton; St Philip’s in Plains, North Lanarkshire;
Kibble in Paisley; and Rossie in Montrose – are run by voluntary
organisations. St Philip’s provides secure, residential and
education facilities for young men.
While all three types of care are provided at the St Philip’s
campus, a withdrawal of funding for the secure unit will leave
St Philip’s facing a cross-campus closure. St Philip’s is run
by a voluntary board of managers and is a registered charity.
It is one of three units – together with St Mary’s Kenmure and
the Good Shepherd – that are run by voluntary organisation the
In January, St. Phillip’s was inspected and was awarded ‘very
good’ in both the areas inspected: Quality of Care and Support;
and Quality of Management and Leadership.
For further information contact Simon Macfarlane on
07703 194 132, or Trisha Hamilton on 0141 342 2877 / 07939 478
461. Or visit our website at www.unison-scotland.org.uk