Grant helps secure future of Barnstaple advice centre

THE future of a resource centre which helps hundreds of North Devon people with sight and hearing problems is looking positive thanks to a �17,000 grant from the Lloyds TSB Foundation. The See Hear Centre in Barnstaple, which offers a free support and adv

THE future of a resource centre which helps hundreds of North Devon people with sight and hearing problems is looking positive thanks to a �17,000 grant from the Lloyds TSB Foundation.

The See Hear Centre in Barnstaple, which offers a free support and advice service to anyone with sight or hearing loss, was given the cash for staff costs to ensure that a sensory equipment service can continue confidently into the future.

The Centre offers demonstrations of equipment designed to make life easier for people with sight or hearing loss and a 'try before you buy' scheme. The staff also visit community groups, taking equipment out to people who cannot visit the Centre.

Staff can advise employers and other organisations such as the police, pension service and local theatres on how they can cater best for people with hearing or sight impairments.


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The See Hear Centre, which was set up in 2003, relies on grants and is part of the disability charity Living Options Devon.

See Hear Service Manager Sue Bennett said: "We are very grateful to Lloyds TSB Foundation for its support. The Centre relies on grants, legacies and donations to provide the valuable service that we do.

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"In the first six months of 2009 we saw 257 new clients and helped 329 repeat customers. In 2008, we helped 1,031 people which illustrates how important our work is. On top of that we have reached 192 people through talks about our work this year so far.

"It can be hard to understand how important a service like the See Hear Centre can be for people who have sight or hearing problems. It also impacts on their family and friends but we can help everyone involved with the advice and support we offer."

Sue said the service, which gets 40 per cent of its referrals from hospitals and social services, needed financial support from organisations like Lloyds TSB to be able to continue its work.

"The next nearest service is in Exeter which is impractical for people with sight and hearing loss. Our services allow people to live a fuller, more independent life," she added.

Brian Imeson, who lives in Challacombe, was one of the founder members of the See Hear Centre and still serves on the Advisory Group.

Mr Imeson, who is registered blind and uses a guide dog, said: "The Centre really is a lifeline for people with sight and hearing loss. It is an asset to the community and is now an established part of the community, both with organisations like hospitals and its users.

"There is nothing like this in the NHS which is why I helped set it up to benefit people like me. I have recently used the Centre to get an electronic reader to read my mail for me, thus using the very service I helped to set up."

The See Hear Centre provides clients with details of specialist training - such as lip reading or British Sign Language courses. It provides computer training for people with sight loss as the Centre. It can also offer referrals to local support groups, Social Services and other professional bodies.

Any trusts or other organisations which want to support the work of the See Hear Centre can contact Sue Bennett on 01271 373236.

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