Saturday, 22 July 2017

Charity merger threatens demise of UK HoH groups ?

This latest reported merger suggests further reduction in the support of HoH by UK charities, leaving only one clear 'winner' the AOHL/RNID, who must be rubbing their hands with glee at the 'consolidation' of these poorly supported charities.  

By far the saddest aspect was the reporting of the merger suggesting 'Two deaf groups' were to merge.  This was inaccurate reporting and shows confused understanding of the very diverse hearing loss areas, in fact 3 of them not two, who are now put on par with animals..  

Background: The First merger between Hearing Concern and LINK, was between two groups who did NOT promote their operations as 'support for the Deaf'.  Both were very much HoH and deafened-based, with LINK at the time NOT promoting sign language use.

(LINK was a predominantly the sole charity based on supporting deafened people, in reality the ONLY charity in the UK doing this and deafened support suffered as a result after the merger, there is no longer a charity solely designed to meet deafened need).  The NADP is invisible.

Hearing Concern was basically the poor man's RNID and had few offices nation-wide at all, including none in Wales, it had no dedicated areas as such with the HoH of note, it was one of 56 'HoH' charities at the time with similar aims and similarly ineffective.  

It is confusion personified the merged charities of Hearing Concern/Link are to merge yet again, this time with a dog charity (?).   (ATR rejects the need for deaf assistance dogs). The merger suggests HoH and deafened are in the future being supported less, than they are now.  It also suggests they are on borrowed time and stand to be swept aside by the mega-powerful AOHL, already accused of dumping the 'Deaf'.  The merger may be financial expediency, or the admission they cannot 'sell' HoH need and need to use animals to pull in funding.  No doubt the next thing we read will be 're-branding' and new names etc.  Re-arranging the deck chairs on the HoH Titanic.

There seems little appreciation or understanding that the reason for these mergers is a total disinterest in HoH need and of hearing loss interest in charities. If there was a merger would not be necessary.  It has echoes of the RNIB (The UK blind charity), who due to the fickle nature of the UK joe public, saw blind dog charities make 4 times the funding, compared to charities dedicated to actual blind people's support.  At one time the blind dog charity was sitting on 12 times the funding of the RNIB itself. (The UK public put animals first not people).

That the declaration of the merger came from corporate 'Third sector' (An area UK charities use to hire hearing, not deaf or HoH professional staff), is no surprise, and reveals just how far charity has shifted from a grassroots based, to a corporate take over where grass roots need not apply.  The circle of support being squared to enable  hearing to make capital on our issues by running our support areas and determining directions of that support without us.

The blurb

Hearing Link will become part of Hearing Dogs for Deaf People from 1 August, with both brands continuing to operate The merger will provide people who have hearing loss with access to a broader range of services, the statement said.

Hearing Link, which helps people to deal with the practical and emotional challenges of hearing loss, has been spending hundreds of thousands of pounds more than its income in recent years, accounts filed with the Charity Commission show. It spent £1.2m in 2015 against an income of £671,257, the accounts show.

"As with many small charities, the challenging and competitive fundraising environment has proved extremely difficult for Hearing Link," a statement on Hearing Link’s website said. "By merging with Hearing Dogs and incorporating Hearing Link as a distinct service within the larger charity we have secured our future to enable us to continue to deliver our life-changing services."

Hearing Link has 13 staff. Hearing Dogs, which provides assistance dogs for people with hearing loss, has 184 staff and had an income of £7.5m in the year to the end of March 2016.  A spokeswoman for Hearing Dogs said the merger would not result in any redundancies.

Michele Jennings, chief executive of Hearing Dogs, will continue as chief executive of the merged organisation, and Lorraine Gailey, chief executive of Hearing Link, will become chief operating officer and retain responsibility for Hearing Link within the merged charity. The spokeswoman said the charities would be able to make savings by merging back-office functions because Hearing Link would no longer need to outsource areas such as finance or IT.

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