Crowthorne Women's Institute calls for hearing loop because members cannot hear meetingsBy Becky Barnes
November 06, 2012
A community group which has brought together women in the village for 92 years says it is losing members because they are unable to hear at meetings.
Crowthorne Women’s Institute (WI) is calling upon Crowthorne Parish Council to install a hearing loop at the Morgan Centre in Wellington Road, but has been told it is not a priority.
Secretary Sylvia Smallbone, 75, from Crowthorne said: “Hearing is a major issue as our members are in their 60s to their 90s. Members are leaving because they can’t hear.
“I am most surprised the parish council did not see it as a disabled issue.”
The WI wrote to the parish council after three members left in two years and others are unable to enjoy the talks and singing put on each month.
Sylvia, who has lived in the village since 1974, said: “We were told ‘sorry you can’t have it and you have to pay £100 to have a PA system’.
“We can’t afford £100 a year.
“The WI is the essential meeting place for original Crowthorne people, a place to have homemade cake and afternoon tea. We feel very strongly a hearing loop must be installed.”
Sylvia said the WI has been ‘putting pressure’ on the parish council for two years but has been told they can’t do it before refurbishments and redecoration.
She added the WI has been told it will cost around £2,000 to £3,000 to install a comprehensive PA system.
She said: “We can’t get enough money together, but we feel it is so essential.
“It is a public place hired out for meetings and yet they’re not willing to do it.
“They have a ramp and disabled toilets and special doors. We feel quite strongly about it – there should be a hearing loop too.”
The 40 members meet at the Morgan Centre as there is a two-hour parking limit at Crowthorne Parish Hall.
They have been fundraising for a hearing loop and have raised around £500 through bring and buy sales.
Sylvia said: “It is no mean feat. Our members also pay a membership fee.”
Adele Swadling, Crowthorne Parish Council clerk, said: “The WI wrote to us and asked us to obtain on their behalf quotes to put in a hearing loop system at the Morgan Centre.
“The parish council is looking at installing a hearing loop as part of refurbishments but due to funding problems there are other priorities such as redoing the toilets.
“We have not budgeted for the hearing loop within this financial year, but it is something we are looking at.”