Following the sudden news of closure of a much-loved day centre, residents across Oxfordshire affected by the announcement have shared their personal stories with the Oxford Mail.

The charity Home Trust Foundation revealed plans last month to shut down its south Oxfordshire site because it was no longer financially viable.

The closure will leave more than 100 people with many types of learning disability, on end-of-life support, the elderly, dementia sufferers, and people with other complex health needs who depend on the care provided, without a secure future.

However, the unexpected news also rocked the lives of many devastated family members, who formed an action group campaigning to keep the hub in Milton Heights, near Didcot, from shutting down.

The group boasts more than 50 people, including Barbara and Graham Williams, who said news of the closure had been broken to family members ‘in the most brutal way’.

Their daughter, Lydia, incurred brain damage at birth and now has epilepsy, a left hemiplegia – a type of cerebral palsy, and severe learning disabilities.

Mrs Williams explained her apprehension, saying: “Over the 17 years of our relationship with the charity HFT, we have felt confident that our daughter was happy and well cared for, and we would congratulate ourselves that we had made her future secure.

“This meant that when we were no longer here, there would be people to care for her. Over the last three weeks, the bottom has fallen out of our world and now nothing feels safe or secure.”

The couple, however, praised the staff at HFT.

They said that over the years, carers at the site built up a relationship of trust with their daughter, so the seizures she endures are well controlled and her behaviour is managed with ‘skill and care’.

Mrs Williams added: “Lydia is about to lose all this with 12 weeks’ notice.”

Distraught parents Helen and Tim King also expressed their fears over the looming moment of closure on May 31.

Their daughter, Annabel, who has Down’s syndrome suffered severe depression in her early 20s when she refused to eat, lost all interest in her life and regressed from her social activities.

However, the parents praised the ‘wonderful’ staff at the Milton Heights hub, which Ms King visits four times a week, She said staff had no problem with her and knew ‘how to get through her’.

Mr King said: “Annabel’s depression was the most harrowing experience to witness. For her it must have been hell on earth, and we are in constant dread of it ever returning. So her lifeline disappearing at Milton Heights is something we dread beyond words.

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“She is a very complicated person who is more aware than she is able to show, and some people cannot understand her needs. Any change in her life will be devastating.”

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Jacob Hart is one of 25 permanent residents, having lived in the facility for the past 35 years. He was described as "very lovely and lively – but quite anxious" by his sister Joanna Ryan.

Ms Ryan said her brother’s security, and the consistency of his relationships with staff at the site, would be blown away "in the most inhumane manner conceivable" after its closure.

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She said Mr Hart was "distraught and angry, hiding under his duvet, and saying he refuses to leave".

From her professional experience as a psychologist and psychotherapist, Ms Ryan also claimed it was extremely likely he would have a serious mental breakdown following the closure.

She added: “The HFT banner proudly states ‘whole life care’ and though of course this was not a legal contract, all of us assumed this was the case baring serious changes in medical or psychiatric conditions.

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“Indeed, many people have donated considerable sums in their legacies to HFT on the assumption that after their death their relative would be looked after.

“In one case, in a recent meeting, a donation amounted to £250,000. The betrayal of trust is staggering. Jacob’s own father, Prof Herbert Hart of Oxford University, and former principal of Brasenose College, devoted many years of his life indefatigably raising funds for HFT.”

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The charity blamed ‘chronic underfunding of social care’ for the centre’s closure and said it is a national problem and a ‘huge concern’ for providers who face similar challenges.

A spokesperson for HFT said: “The Milton Heights site faces a number of challenges, one of which is the fact that the fees we are paid to support people at the site do not cover the cost of running the service.

"As a result, the charitable organisation has been subsidising the cost of running Milton Heights for some time, meaning that we have been sustaining considerable losses, running to several thousand every week.”