Praxis Care is a charity for the provision of care and support to vulnerable children and adults with learning disabilities, mental ill health, acquired brain injury and dementia As you may be aware, there has been considerable media attention in relation to the current situation regarding The Secret Garden, belonging to Hillsborough Castle, and the involvement of Praxis Care. The facts are: 1. Mo Mowlam, the then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland granted the use of the Secret Garden at Hillsborough Castle to the Charity Sector for a peppercorn rent of £1. Praxis Care was and is extremely grateful for this gift. The subsequent Secretary of State offered a further extension of the lease to 20 years. 2. In order to use the facility to provide jobs for service users, Praxis Care developed a coffee shop and garden centre. 3. However, the Northern Ireland Office, now under the current Secretary of State, told Praxis Care almost a year ago that it wanted a property management charity to take over Hillsborough Castle and its gardens and run it as a tourist attraction. To do this, the Northern Ireland Office required that Praxis Care move out. No timeframe and no detail of a provider was given at this stage because plans had not been finalised. 4. Within this past few months, the Northern Ireland Office has confirmed that the Historic Royal Palaces organisation will develop Hillsborough Castle and the gardens as a major tourist attraction. 5. The Northern Ireland Office has stated that the 16 people with a learning disability currently working in the coffee shop and gardens cannot continue in their jobs on the site under the new organisation. 6. The Historical Royal Palaces organisation has confirmed the Praxis Care Coffee Shop site and the Walled Garden are vital to their development and, to facilitate this, the NIO wanted Praxis Care to vacate the premises by the 7th February. Praxis Care has no legal right under the terms of the lease to remain or seek any recompense for its investment in the garden. 7. Praxis Care regrets the current situation as services users love working in the garden, the garden centre and the coffee shop. 8. Praxis Care appreciates all the unsolicited support given from a wide range of people and politicians across all sides of the community, including an online petition and a rally to Hillsborough Castle organised by an interested group, Kilwarlin Residents’ Association, at 11am on Wednesday 12 March 2014. The organisation greatly appreciates the interest shown by this group and would encourage people to participate in the rally. The key issue is in relation to a group of individuals with a learning disability being displaced from their place of work with no recognition of the moral and ethical issues involved nor the need to facilitate adequate alternative provision. Your attendance at this rally in support of Kilwarlin Residents Association at 11am on Wednesday 12 March 2014 would be most appreciated.
Last updated 7 years 8 months ago