Fears over Leeds deaf blind services

Concerns have been raised about the future of services for blind and deaf people in Leeds.

CoHearentVision's contract to run services on behalf of Leeds City Council runs out on March 31.

It will be replaced by three new organisations, who won bids to provide services and support.

But users say they are confused about what the changes will mean.

Blind pensioner Ivy Needham, 85, who lives in Belle Isle, said: "Everyone is concerned about what is happening. We are not really sure what is happening or whether we are moving venues. Nothing has been confirmed."

CoHearentVision, who lost out in the bidding process, has also claimed there are issues to address.

Rob Young, chief executive of CoHearentVision, said: "The council has awarded contracts to organisations, neither of whom have buildings from which to deliver from. This matter is still unresolved.

"We are extremely disappointed not to have been awarded at least one of the contracts we bid for."

The company Bid Services will run services for the Leeds deaf or hard of hearing, while the contract for the sight impaired was won by Leeds Vision Consortium (LVC), a collaboration between Action for Blind People and the Wilberforce Trust.

They will hold a meeting in an attempt to re-assure users at the Shireview Centre in Headingley on February 25 at 11am.

In Leeds there are more than 5,300 people registered blind and many thousands more with hearing and visual impairments.

A spokeswoman for Leeds City Council said: "Over the next few months, they will work closely with everyone to ensure that services continue as normally as possible during the changeover period and staff currently employed by CoHearentVision will have the chance to transfer to the new services, if they wish."

Tony Burdin, chief executive of Sheffield Mutual Friendly Society

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