Gateshead Council’s flagship talking newspaper and transcription service has become the latest victim of the government’s war against the public sector. AIRS (Accessible Information, Resources and Services) provided an essential service to blind, partially sighted and deaf individuals in Gateshead and the North East of England.
On our last day at work the AIRS team gathered to mark the end of an era. We were joined by many previous employees who returned to say farewell to the unique and irreplaceable organisation we all served, safe in the knowledge we were doing something ‘good’ and ‘important’.
By the time this photo was taken we may have been slightly drunk.
AIRS will be missed by its many loyal listeners and its staff. I know I will never work anywhere like it again. I lasted 10 years – the longest I’ve ever been in a job.
The loss of this service is yet another example of this government’s disregard for vulnerable sections of society, leaving the disabled, disadvantaged, socially isolated and poor at the mercy of the rich.
There are alternative talking newspaper providers in the north east, all run by volunteers, but – and here’s the rub, Mr Cameron – they’re not very good. They’re amateurish and slapdash, whereas AIRS was a professional, polished product.
Now I’m all for people having a go and creating something for themselves, the more the merrier, and all that. But if you want quality you have to pay for it.
The crisis in our public services is only just beginning. Is it really enough to simply cross our fingers and hope for the best? What state will we be in come 2015?
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