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RSS Meeting Update

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Update on the Rotherham Sight & Sound (RSS) consultation meeting:

A consultation meeting was held at Talbot Lane Methodist Church in Rotherham on Wednesday 5th Dec about the future of RSS, following the proposed decision by Rotherham MBC not to renew funding for the centre from March 2019. It was attended by Nathan Atkinson who is Assistant Director Strategic Commissioning at Rotherham Council.

Steve Hambleton SRSB and RSS’s General Manager introduced the meeting, and invited the 60 plus attendees to put forward their views on the potential withdrawal of funding. The council have already had a number of letters and online feedback concerning the possible cut to the service, but also agreed to meet with the group to hear their opinions and questions in person. This was required to ensure that both the deaf and visually impaired community had been given the opportunity to put forward their feedback in a way accessible to them. British Sign Language  interpreters were also present.   

Nathan clarified that the council are happy with the service that RSS has provided, but that because of their cuts, they are having to make difficult decisions about where they make cuts. This decision is not a reflection on the quality of the services provided by RSS which was then validated by the personal and professional statements from members of the audience.

There were some very powerful responses from clients who have benefitted from the support of RSS, with some people breaking down whilst expressing what the service has meant to them. Many people spoke about how hopelessly isolated they felt prior to the centre being available and that if they hadn’t been helped by RSS, they didn’t know where they could have turned and that RSS had changed their lives. 

Whilst the centre has very quickly established contact with over 700 clients in Rotherham, people were clearly concerned about the thousands of people who still need to be reached. It is apparent that this is something RSS’s clients are passionate about, because they do not want others to feel how they felt before this lifeline.

Strong points were made about the impact not just on the lives of hearing and sight impaired clients, but also the potential effect on other services, for example, concerns that mental health and wellbeing would be affected, not just for clients, but the impact it could have on family members etc. Many people see this cut as a false economy that could in fact cause more issues in the long run with people reaching crisis point, the consequence of which will be a much greater cost to the council and health services. Also, the ability for other organisations to cope with the volume of people that will be pushed into other services was questioned. This opinion was backed up by the comments of people from other organisations who have worked with RSS.

Nathan assured everyone that their comments would be fed back to the council and there will be an analysis of the responses which will form part of the decision making process, then final recommendations will be made in early February. 

We would encourage people to attend any of the public council meetings to continue to make their voices heard.

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