Warrington deafness charity told its contract will not be renewed
CRUCIAL services that have helped generations of Warrington’s deaf community are set to be shelved. The Deafness Support Network (DSN) has been told by Warrington and Halton borough councils that their own staff will take over its social work and technical equipment services contract as of April 1.
The charity has carried out work with deaf people since 1976.
Peter Carter, of Wellfield Street, dad to service user Michael, who is aged 25 and profoundly deaf, said: “This is an atrocious decision and I am devastated.
“Michael’s social worker communicates with him in sign language and the two are close.
“My fear is that council social workers won’t have such skills.
“Michael has made use of these services since he was born and this feels like discrimination.
“The deaf community is like one big family and we won’t take it lying down.”
The shock announcement was made by Mark Ward, DSN’s chief executive, at the Deaf Club, on Wilson Patten Street, last Wednesday.
Mr Ward believed the decision would compromise service users and said: “DSN is extremely disappointed, having delivered this service for so many years.
“We’re also concerned about the potential impact on service users. I think deaf people will receive a less suitable service if it’s not provided through a eaf service.
“Deaf people need social workers who know their community, history and culture and how to communicate with different types of deaf people.”
Mr Ward stressed that DSN had not asked for more funding or requested a change of terms to the current contract and that following the cuts the charity would not be able to duplicate a council service.
DSN, which will seek legal advice about the contract termination, has received information from Halton Council as to where its services are located, but nothing so far from Warrington.
A Warrington Borough Council spokesman said: “As our service delivery contract with DSN is coming to an end, we decided to bring the provision of this key service in house as we are now confident we have the expertise within the team to do so successfully. This absolutely is not a cost-cutting exercise.
“I would like to reassure users that they will have input into the development of this new service, which will include a sensory team and staff who are trained in signing, so that we can come to better understand what is important to them and meet their needs appropriately.”
DSN was founded in 1976 as the Cheshire Deaf Society and provides a wide range of support and services, dealing with 35,000 queries in the past year alone.
In coming weeks, DSN will make as much information as possible available about what people should do if they require a service after April 1.