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Thu 23 June 2011

UNISON urges Scottish government to save St Philip’s secure unit from closure

UNISON, Scotland’s biggest union in the community and voluntary sectors, has urged Justice Minister Kenny MacAskill to urge a rethink about the closure of a secure unit for vulnerable boys in North Lanarkshire.

Union organisers along with representatives from the board and management team of St Philip’s met Justice Minister Kenny MacAskill yesterday (Wednesday) to discuss the implications of the secure unit not being awarded a contract to provide secure provision.

The decision will force the closure of the unit unless the government reconsiders its decision.

St Philip’s received notice on Friday (June 17) that it had not been awarded a contract to provide secure provision, meaning it will no longer be able to receive referrals from the courts and Children’s Panel.

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, the withdrawal of funding for the secure unit has left St Philip’s facing a cross-campus closure and 259 staff facing the axe.

Simon MacFarlane, regional organiser for UNISON, said: "UNISON has met with the Justice Minister, however, he seems unwilling to reconsider the review of the secure estate. He was also unable to offer any hope of temporary employment for the dedicated staff who work at St Philip’s who, at the very least, want to be able to aide the transition of these vulnerable young people to a new facility.

"Our members include low-paid female workers through to staff in the senior management team – none of who will find gaining alternative employment easy in the current climate. If the minister is unwilling to review the closure of St Philip’s then he must look at providing enhanced redundancy payments, which would offer a small cushion while members look for alternative work.

"We appreciate the efforts of Labour’s Siobhan McMahon, central Scotland list MSP, who has raised concerns over the impact of the site’s closure on these vulnerable young men, our members and the wider community. We hope the Government will listen to our concerns before it’s too late."

ENDS

Notes to editors

1. St Philip’s, in Plains, is one of three units run by voluntary organisation the Cora Foundation. The unit currently supports 18 young men who reside within the secure unit and many others who attend the residential and educational facilities on St Philip’s campus.

2. For further information contact Simon Macfarlane, regional organiser, on 07703 194 132, Janet Stewart, area organiser, on 07958 121 120, or Trisha Hamilton, communications officer, on 0141 342 2877 / 07939 478 461.

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