Talking newspaper for the blind is cut

A talking newspaper created by the Beacon Centre for the Blind is being axed after the charity fell £250,000 short in fundraising.

A talking newspaper created by the Beacon Centre for the Blind is being axed after the charity fell £250,000 short in fundraising.

Bosses at the 137-year-old charity say seven jobs are also under threat as they make savings to cope with the downturn.

The talking newspaper is used by 350 blind and partially sighted people but the centre in Wolverhampton Road East, Sedgley will now refer them to another service which is provided by a different charity because of lack of funding.

Beacon centre chief executive Ian Ferguson today said the charity was looking to protect front line services.

It helps around 3,000 people in the region and has 72 apartments on site. Just two years ago the charity celebrated by opening a new £18 million centre.

The charity needs around £2.5 million a year to sustain it along with its 124 staff.

Mr Ferguson today paid tribute to the army of 250 volunteers who help to keep it going but admitted job losses were looming.

He said: “We’ve made a financial loss of nearly £250,000 this year. It’s covered by reserves but we have to take action. The only service proposed to be cut is the talking newspaper. Altogether there are seven people under threat of redundancy.

“Unfortunately corporate fundraising has fallen off a cliff and we have also noticed a drop in the number of legacies where people leave money in their wills.”

He said production of the talking newspaper is currently halted due to staff illness.

Wolverhampton Liberal Independent councillor Richard Whitehouse said: “I am very concerned about the talking newspaper. It is a service that should be provided come what may.”

A free talking newspaper for the Black Country is produced by the Thomas Pocklington Trust and it is expected users of the Beacon Centre talking newspaper will be offered a transfer.