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October 1, 2003

Deaf people's charity call to keep premises

From: Sheffield Today, UK - Oct 1, 2003

A SHEFFIELD centre for the deaf is set to issue a plea to council bosses today – please don't throw us out.

The Central Deaf Club has provided services to deaf people in Sheffield for 20 years from its home on Surrey Place, next to the Millennium Galleries.
Council bosses have slapped a £12,000 rent increase on the cash-strapped charity – and voluntary workers say the hike virtually amounts to an eviction notice.
The authority is due to approve a £12,000 grant aid package for the charity to cover the rent increase – but whether this will be continued in further years is unclear.
Charity chiefs say the hike in rent has come despite the fact it has had to put up with being in a building site next to the Heart of the City Project for six years.
A club spokesperson said: "We were devastated when the council said they were going to increase our rent from £18,000 to £30,000.
"It's just not possible for small voluntary charitable organisations like ourselves to afford a massive rent hike like this.
"Our members are concerned that this is an attempt by the city council to throw us out of our offices. In the past three weeks we have gathered 5,050 names on our petition with more arriving every day. This shows the true strength of feelings there is in Sheffield about this issue.
"It is clear that in the European year of people with disabilities, this city council do not see deaf people at the heart of Sheffield."
But a council spokesperson said the rent increase was "in line with council policy of charging market rentals".
And council bosses are also to lead a review of the voluntary sector provision of services for deaf people across the city.
Today's full council meeting is expected to approve the one-year grant aid payment of £12,000 to the Deaf Club to cover the rent increase.
Coun Jan Wilson, leader of the council, said: "I'm delighted that the council can provide this support to the Deaf Club over the coming year, such services for deaf people in Sheffield are essential.
"It is vital that high quality services for deaf people are available throughout the city.''

© 2002 Johnston Press New Media