Caithness deaf service back on its feet after cash plea

A VITAL service to people in the Far North with hearing problems has been saved – thanks to an appeal in the Caithness Courier.

Caithness Deaf Care feared that it would be forced to cut down its service to over 1100 people based in Caithness and North Sutherland due to a lack of funding and spiralling costs.

But after its plight was highlighted in the Caithness Courier at the end of last year, the non-profit organisation has been inundated with help.

In November, the group, which operates centres in Thurso and Wick, announced a deficit of almost £9000 that resulted in its level of service decreasing.

Since then, however, thousands of pounds have been raised through donations and grants, the deficit has now disappeared and there is money left over to invest in the organisation.

Co-ordinator Deirdre Aitken said that the turnaround which has taken place in the last four months has been incredible.

“We have be so lucky with the support we have received, we can’t thank the local community enough as that is where most of the funding has come from,” she said.

“The situation back in November was quite grim for us and we had to reduce the number of hours staff were working.

“The deficit was caused by a lack of funding due to the current economic climate where charitable organisations were not in a position to make donations to the level as they once did.

“But thanks to our appeal through the Caithness Courier we started to receive a flood of donations which eliminated the issue and we now have a surplus of £1400.”

The money has enabled the centre to increase the hours of part-time staff from 15 to 25 and strengthen the service it provides to the community.

The group operates two drop-in centres which are both open three days a week and offer help and advice to people who suffer from hearing problems.

Volunteers are on hand to inform people about hearing aids, batteries and upkeep of hearing equipment.

Advice is available on other services such as referrals to audiology departments and social work services.

Staff also operate rural clinics in seven different areas in Caithness and North Sutherland every three months to provide services to clients in isolated locations. They also visit nursing homes and daycare centres.

Mrs Aitken said that the organisation is now on the lookout for volunteers to come and join the team.

“We deal with lots of different people with varying levels of hearing problems, but the advice that we can offer is hugely appreciated by those who receive it,” she said.

The Caithness Deaf Care centres are in Riverside Drive, Thurso, and Telford Street, Wick.