Families challenge Norwood over Ravenswood’s future

Loved ones of residents at the Berkshire facility for people with complex special needs and autism have issued a 19-page document making the case for its retention


As more than 55,000 people have backed their petition to save Ravenswood Village, families of residents at the Berkshire facility for people with complex special needs and autism have issued a 19-page document making the case for its retention.

A consultation on Ravenswood’s future conducted by Norwood, which administers the village, ended last week and Norwood is expected to announce its next steps in the autumn.

But the families are ramping up the pressure, taking issue with Norwood’s assertion that Ravenswood was no longer commissioned by local authorities.

The Ravenswood Families Association claims that none of the eight local authorities it contacted had raised objections to placing those with relevant disabilities there. The association said it could not go into detail about the responses for data protection reasons but the information had been relayed to Norwood.

In the “The Case for Ravenswood” document, sent to Norwood trustees last week, the association also pointed to the village’s good overall Care Quality Commission rating to support the argument “that Ravenswood is a relevant model, in line with national policy”. Norwood had said at the outset of the consultation that the village “unfortunately represents a dated model of care which is no longer supported by national policy”.

On Wednesday, the association said it had not received a response to its submission from Norwood although the JC understands it will be considered by trustees as part of the consultation. The charity has also offered to meet representatives of the association next week.

The association’s vice-chair, Jasmine Zivari, said its primary goal was to “get a commitment from Norwood to partner with the Ravenswood Families Association on a viable, sustainable solution to secure the future of Ravenswood Village”.

In contrast to Norwood’s concerns over falling numbers, annual running costs exceeding £13 million and the need for “substantial capital investment”, the association contends that the “financial situation at Ravenswood Village is manageable and its losses can be substantially reduced or reach an acceptable level for a national charity”.

According to the association’s figures, the village last year accounted for 35 per cent (around £2.5 million) of Norwood’s total financial losses in adult services. It believes the situation would be significantly improved by filling vacancies or amalgamating residents into fewer homes.

Meanwhile, a survey of 53 families of residents conducted by the association found widespread agreement that the village had not been well publicised (94 per cent), nor well-funded (87 per cent) over the past five years.

Ms Zivari believed “a combination of several ideas would be needed to secure the future of Ravenswood”. Options included applying for a Heritage Lottery grant, integrating with private sector care homes, raising money through a developer and developing Ravenswood’s model to target complex needs with high funding.

She added that the petition she had set up three weeks ago ( had been supported by Berkshire locals, Jewish community members and those with a disabled family member but no ties to Ravenswood.

The Finchley Reform member attributed the success of the petition to the “unique” characteristics of Ravenswood.

“There aren’t enough places like Ravenswood that offer people with learning disabilities opportunities to really thrive and not just exist in this world.”

Her brother Shahin, 40, is non-verbal and has multiple learning disabilities. He has lived at Ravenswood for more than two decades and particularly enjoys the riding opportunities afforded by its stables.

On Wednesday, Norwood CEO Dr Beverley Jacobson stressed that no decision on Ravenswood’s future had been taken. “The wellbeing of the people we support at Ravenswood Village — and the importance of planning for their needs ahead of time in light of a number of challenges that the village is facing — was at the heart of the decision to hold a consultation and will remain a priority for whatever comes next.

“We fully understand the anxiety this is causing for families whose relatives live at Ravenswood and have spent the last three months in close dialogue with our residents, their families, our staff, volunteers and local authorities in order to understand the views and priorities of all involved with Ravenswood before deciding on a course of action.

“Our aim is to ensure that Norwood’s facilities are in the right locations, providing the right kind of care and support for vulnerable people so we can meet our community’s needs and expectations, now and in the future.”

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