A DEMONSTRATION has been held by protesters angry at the possible closure of the area’s only respite centre for people with multiple sclerosis.

People from as far as Leeds travel to the Woodlands Respite Care Centre, off Hull Road, in York, to meet up with others in similar situations to themselves and to give their families a break.

They said the centre had experienced, skilled staff and all the specialist equipment that people with MS need.

But the MS Society said people want individual care services rather than residential respite care.

None of Woodlands’ clients – who are also members of the society – agree and nor do the 428 members of a Facebook page set up to protest against the planned closure.

Joan Moat, of Wheatcroft, in Strensall, said if the centre closed she would be cancelling her membership of the MS Society.

Mrs Moat said: “I’ve been coming to the centre for the last four years.

“I get the company of other people in the same situation as I am. We feel safe and secure and our families know we are being well looked after and they don’t need to worry about us.

“If it shuts I will be staying at home as there is nowhere else to go.

“I come here and my husband gets a break from looking after me; as well as a break for the ones who come here it’s also a break for their main carers.”

MS Society bosses have denied the possible closure is finance-driven. They have said they will look to transfer services from the centre to another provider, but if none comes forward, it could close. Terry Keogh, who travels from Leeds to Woodlands, said the proposals were made after consultation with about 1,600 society members.

But he said there was no option for members to say they wanted residential care to continue.

A spokeswoman for the MS Society said: “Our consultation has overwhelmingly shown us that people want more individualised services and choice; and given the choice, 66 per cent of people would choose a holiday-style break with care provided.

“The decision made by the MS Society’s Trustees to no longer provide residential respite care will allow us to invest in these more personalised areas and essentially provide more people with MS from across the UK with the kind of care they aspire to have.”