Petition against sight loss charity funding cuts

A SIGHT loss charity could have to scale back its services after it emerged Essex County Council is considering pulling the plug on a yearly grant of �15,500.

Support 4 Sight on George Street in Saffron Walden received a letter from the authority at the end of last month saying it was reviewing its grant allocations for voluntary organisations.

The county council appears to be leaning towards an approach that would see it commission services from organisations like Support 4 Sight rather than donating a grant to support them.

It means the charity, which has helped support around 4,000 people in Essex who are either blind, partially sighted or visually impaired, may not be able to offer all of the services it is currently providing.

Madeleine Cassidy, director of Support 4 Sight, told the Reporter the grant had been going towards the “core costs of running the charity” such as rent on its resource centre and staffing.

She also said losing it could impact on the chances of securing other sizeable donations from grants such as the Big Lottery Fund because the charity has to demonstrate it has ongoing funding.

“The loss of funding could endanger some of the services that we run. What we’re trying to do now is ensure we can save the funding,” she said.

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“If we have definitely lost it we will have to look at all the services and decide what we can retain and what we will have to limit such as how far we can reach geographically.”

A petition has been launched to try to stop the funding being cut from next March and more than 250 people have signed it since Monday.

However, Mrs Cassidy has urged the community to help them reach a target of 10,000 signatures so that the cabinet member at the county council has to respond to it.

If the funding is cut, Mrs Cassidy said the charity hoped it would be commissioned for its services instead.

An Essex County Council spokesman confirmed the authority was reviewing its grant allocations for a number of community organisations which help those affected by sensory impairment to allocate public funds to support residents most effectively.