|12-27-2011, 07:07 PM||#1 (permalink)|
Join Date: Apr 2004
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Deaf and blind student: 'Council funding cut will take my life away'
Caroline Potter loses access to course by Staffordshire County Council cuts | This is Staffordshire
A YOUNG deaf and blind student has been left devastated after being told the £30,000 funding for her specialist college course is to be cut.
Caroline Potter, of Wolstanton, is currently in the second year of a three-year access course at Exeter Royal Academy for Deaf Education.
But her family says the 20-year-old's social worker at Staffordshire County Council, which provides the funding, has told them it will not be available next year.
The authority says no decision has yet been made.
Twin sister Laura Potter-Dunn said: "When Caroline's social worker came round we thought it was a routine update but she said she'd come to discuss what the council wanted Caroline to do in the future. She said she'd been told by her manager Caroline wasn't going to get any funding for the next year of her access course.
"Instead she said the proposal was for Caroline to live in a flat on her own here in Staffordshire and given direct debits to pay for support workers, which would mean her education and her social life would be taken away."
Laura, a second-year student at the University of Gloucestershire, added: "It was a shock – Caroline was crying, saying 'this is what I want to do, I want to learn how to work on my own and get a job'.
"Caroline's come on leaps and bounds since she started at Exeter.
"It provides all the things that we'd always hoped she'd achieve."
Caroline, who attended The Coppice School in Newcastle, said: "I really, really want to stay at college because I love my friends and I love working there."
Mum Emma Dunn said: "The course at Exeter costs £30,000 a year which isn't that different to the council's new proposals, apparently it would only be £3,000 cheaper.
"It's just crazy; at Exeter not only does she get the education, but that pays for her residence and she's got a social life. Living in a flat on her own she wouldn't have any social contact."
Caroline had been hoping to carry on studying at Exeter after her access course.
Her family say they looked at other colleges, including in Newcastle and Manchester, but only Exeter was able to provide for Caroline's specific needs.
Step-dad Craig Dunn, who is a teacher, said: "I find it deeply frustrating that we are constantly having to battle for every little thing.
"Her choices are already severely restricted and the council is trying to restrict them even further."
County councillor Mike Lawrence, cabinet member for children's wellbeing, said: "The funding for Caroline is currently provided in partnership with Social Services and the Government's Young Persons Learning Agency (YPLA), with the arrangements facilitated by the county council. No decisions on provision have yet been made for the 2012-2013 academic year.
"The authority continues to work with Caroline and her family on this and to keep them fully informed of all decisions.
"The council naturally wants the best outcome for Caroline."
But Laura, who set up a Facebook page called Caroline's Campaign, disputed Mr Lawrence's assertion the council is working closely with the family.
She said: "I've emailed to ask him if he actually knows what's going on and he said he would have to speak to the officers involved, so we're waiting for him to get back to us."
"Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light."
- Helen Keller