Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Council Cuts. Fears for Visually Impaired

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Council Cuts. Fears for Visually Impaired

Article excerpt

CONCERNS have been raised over the future of services for those with visual impairments after proposed council cuts.

The Newcastle Society for Blind People held a meeting with other support groups for those with visual impairments, including Eye Wish Access, the Community Interest Company, to discuss how cuts and changes will affect those registered blind and those with sight problems.

During the meeting, concerns were raised over how changes to the sensory support team at the council will impact on the service users receive, and members also claimed the council's consultation process around the budget cuts had not been published in a format suitable for those with visual impairments.

Dr Maureen Gillman, chair of Eye Wish Access which offers visual awareness training in the North East, said: "We feel we have not been informed. There's a consultation process that ended on Friday, but the council has not made that accessible to visually impaired people.

"It is unfortunate and it is just thoughtless because up until this point when everything has been going really well at Newcastle."

Newcastle City Council must save PS100m from the council's budget in the next three years.

And after months of action, the council's consultation with residents, businesses and community organisations ended on Friday.

Now councillors will discuss the findings and agree a final budget on March 6. "Specialist staff in the sensory support team are being moved into other teams and we do not know whether we are going to lose our service, that's the situation at the moment," said 63-uear-old Dr Gillman, who became registered blind in 1996.

"We know the staff at the sensory support team really well and they are just as much a victim as we are, they are being moved around and do not know what their future holds," she said. …

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