Charity thanks Saffron Walden residents after staving off funding cuts

THE backing of over 1,300 people has helped stave off funding cuts to a sight loss charity after Essex County Council announced it would continue its yearly grant.

Support 4 Sight, based in George Street, Saffron Walden, has thanked people in the town and surrounding villages for their support after describing the “breath-taking” response to a petition launched two months ago.

The charity’s director, Madeleine Cassidy, said: “I have been completely overwhelmed by the support our charity has received from local people. Clearly, Support 4 Sight’s services are appreciated by members of our community, who have demonstrated the public demand of the need for longer term financial commitment from funding organisations in Health and Social Care.”

In November last year, the Reporter revealed how Support 4 Sight was concerned about having to scale back its services if the county council decided to pull the plug on its yearly grant of £15,500.

The charity, which has helped support around 4,000 people in Essex who are either blind, partially sighted or visually impaired, had received notification from officials at County Hall that the authority was reviewing its grant allocations for voluntary organisations.

Speaking at the time, Ms Cassidy said losing the grant could also have had an impact on the chances of securing other sizeable donations from grants such as the Big Lottery Fund, with the charity having to demonstrate it has ongoing funding as part of the application process.

But thanks to a combination of local support, hard work and petitioning, and a re-think from Essex County Council, the charity has been awarded a grant for another year.

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The petition was circulated to the general public and businesses across Uttlesford and signed by 1,300 people.

Funding from the grant will pay for the office on George Street, including rent and utilities, giving a specific location for visually impaired people to drop-in and talk through their fears and concerns about sight loss.

Saffron Walden MP, Sir Alan Haselhurst, said he was “delighted” the work of an “important locally based charity” had been recognised and welcomed the county council’s decision to renew the grant.

For more information about Support 4 sight, call 01799 523700.