Help for deaf people comes under threat

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Latest news.

Local deaf rights campaigners are urging Lancashire County Council to move quickly to find a new service provider to meet their needs.

Lancashire Deaf Rights Group want the council to speed up the tendering proceed which so far has lasted six months.

The previous contract with East Lancashire Deaf Society ended last September after five years and so far no replacement has been made.

Deaf people in parts of the county have received a continued service, getting access to information on health, employment issues, benefits and sign language interpreters.

But while East Lancashire Deaf Service has outreach offices that deaf people can go to for advice from the deaf community development officers, the office in Lancaster has closed.

Richard Simkin, chairman of Lancaster Deaf Club, said the outreach office in King Street was used by deaf people from Lancaster and Morecambe and he would have liked help with the rent.

Richard is now considering holding a meeting with some of the club members and someone from Deafway in Preston to discuss their concerns.

Deaf Rights campaigner Len Hodson said: “Correspondence between Lancashire County Council and myself and others for Lancashire Deaf Rights Group has been positive but we are having to keep on pushing them.

“The council was saying about doing a year’s research before the tendering proceed; we asked for a month which would be done and dealt with quicker.”

County Coun Tony Martin, cabinet member for adult and community services, said: “We are committed to providing the right support and will shortly carry out research with the whole deaf community to create the best possible service within the funding available.

“We have worked closely with members of the deaf community, including Lancashire Deaf Rights Group, and have welcomed their help in identifying an independent, qualified person to carry out the research.

“We will confirm the arrangements for the research very soon with a view to reaching conclusions before the summer.

“The research will help us establish what kind of service is needed and allow us to start the tendering process.

“I appreciate the concerns of some members of the deaf community but we are determined to ensure that we provide the best possible, and most cost-effective, service.”