Monday, 30 November 2015

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Staff at blind charity in Carlisle set to lose their jobs

A charity which has been a lifeline for blind and visually impaired Cumbrians is to lose the jobs of all but one of its staff in Carlisle.

Local supporters of Action For Blind People fought a bitter campaign to save its services in Carlisle when a funding crisis prompted the charity to scale back its work three years ago.

Despite that, bosses did secure funding to run a service that trains and advises blind and visually impaired people on using specialist technology, particularly computers.

It has now emerged that funding for the service has come to an end.

One full-time worker and two part-timers – all of them with specialist knowledge of computer technology that can aid the visually impaired – are set to lose their jobs.

Penrith woman Shirley Grisedale, who is now in her 60s and has had a visual impairment since she was a child, said the service offered by the staff at the charity’s office in Botchergate has been invaluable for many people across the county.

“There will still be local blind societies but they don’t have the specialist expertise that the staff at Action for Blind People have,” said Shirley, of Brentfield Way.

“There are three people who work in access technology in Carlisle and they all do an excellent job.

“We fought hard three years ago to keep Action for Blind People in Cumbria but it now looks like it was a waste of time.

“They’re a national charity and they should find the money for this service.

“Losing them will have a big adverse effect of blind and visually impaired people here in Cumbria.

“My husband bought me a laptop computer last Christmas and they helped me set it up and learn how the use its speech system.

“The Government wants to promote what it calls access technology and it can be a huge help to people.

“As far as I know, the only person left in the Carlisle office after March will be the lady gives out advice on employment issues, and she’s only there for three days a week.

“Apparently they tried to get funding for the technology service and failed.

“They’ve said that they will keep trying but once it’s gone it won’t come back.

“If we try to ring for advice to the next available office in Preston you’re lucky if they answer the phone.

“What we’ll have left with is a phone service.”

A spokesman for the charity said: “Action for Blind People can confirm that a technology training contract in Carlisle, funded by Big Lottery Fund (BLF), is coming to an end and won’t be renewed. It concludes during March.

“We have been pursuing a number of options to secure ongoing funding from other sources, but unfortunately, in this difficult financial climate, money has not been forthcoming. Three people on fixed-term contracts won’t have these contracts renewed as a result of the funding coming to an end.

“Despite having been dramatically scaled down because of a funding crisis, Action For Blind People still offers help to visually impaired people across the county from Carlisle base.”

Have your say

'Action For Blind People', along with other charities, dedicated to the needs for the blind and partially-sighted members of our community (of which there are many) provide an invaluable and necessary service.
I work as an Optometrist in Cumbria and have many patients with visual disabilty for whom a pair of 'stronger glasses' is not necessarily the best option.
A majority of such patients are elderly and have a degenerative condition called macular degeneration in which everyday tasks such as reading, watching television, setting the cooker to the correct temperature, making a cup of tea, etc., etc., are greatly impaired to the extent that a person in this awful situation would likely lose their independence. (To anyone young enough to enjoy good eyesight at the moment and who also thinks such charities are unnecessary, think again, and expect macular degeneration as a highly-likely condition that can occur to you, along with wrinkles, poor hearing and grey hair.)
The reason I refer such patients to 'Action For Blind People' is that this organisation endeavours to show visually-disabled individual techniques that will allow them to perform simple, everday tasks for which the average person takes for granted, with the aim of the patient keeping their independence.
I have regularly advised my elderly patients to seek out the excellent advice that is given by the wonderful staff at 'Action For Blind People' because they are often the difference between someone retaining their independence or ending-up in a very lonely position.

Posted by S.M. on 12 February 2013 at 23:25

This is such a shame. I know people who are involved with this charity and they are all in shock.
Hopefully something can be done.

Posted by Amanda Oakes on 12 February 2013 at 11:11

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