SIR – This is a copy of a letter I sent to our MPs.

“Dear Worcestershire MP, I am sure that your mind is occupied by huge national issues at the moment.

However, I would like to pursue the withdrawal of funding from Deaf Direct by WCC following the published Equality Impact Assessment.

You will perhaps have noted the recent coverage of the withdrawal of £45,000 of funding from the charity Deaf Direct, Worcestershire’s specialist Deaf and Hard of Hearing provider.

I am very grateful for the intervention of Harriett Baldwin who, following my blog, contacted the chief executive of Worcestershire County Council to express my concerns and sent me the response she received.

I have concerns on a number of levels, given that the significant Deaf and Hard of Hearing community in Worcestershire will be hugely affected by this funding withdrawal.

This, I fear will lead to more isolation, mental health issues and minimal support Deaf clients within your constituency areas.

In the Equality Impact Assessment on ending the current contract, WCC recognise the impact on Deaf/deaf or hard of hearing service users.

However, the aim of the Council is to “ensure that the needs of service users who are Deaf are met within wider service provision maximising limited resources to meet statutory needs”.

Their intended outcomes are: ‘To improve access to services either geographically or vital accessibility of formats provided in etc (sic) to address the current inequitable service.’

And later: ‘Ensure that any outcomes planned for future service commissioning are robust.’ This leads to several questions which I would ask you to raise with WCC.

It seems to me that the county council’s aims, whilst laudable, are a long way off in terms of implementation.

In the meantime they have denuded a well-respected service of vital funds and have given them to CAB, which whilst being professionals in advice and information, do not have links with foster trust within the Deaf community and Deaf culture.

I would be interested to know what their present expertise is in providing interpretation and translation services for Deaf clients- an issue which is not addressed in the EQI.

In short, whilst WCC may have had dealings with Deaf Direct, I think they have failed to consult with Worcestershire’s Deaf populations, namely your constituents in any real or robust way I feel that the specific voice of Deaf Worcestershire has not been heard.

This being so, I suggest that the interim measures put in place are inadequate and destructive to the needs of the Deaf/deaf/hard of hearing community in Worcestershire.

As such, I would ask you to use your good offices to lobby WCC to reinstate funding until such a time as there is a robust plan in place to cater for your Deaf/Hard of hearing constituents.

I write this in a personal capacity as a friend of Deaf Direct and not as a member of the Worcestershire Deaf Rights Group.

However, I do hold sympathy for this group and hope that you can help.”

Rev Dr David J Southall

Chaplaincy Team Leader