A VULNERABLE group which helps deaf people is being forced out of its Yate headquarters, leaving it with a financial mountain to climb.

South Gloucestershire Deaf Association has been told it must move out of Frome House, on Cranleigh Court Road, by the end of this year as South Gloucestershire Council prepares to demolish the building. The group, which provides sign language courses and support to more than 200 deaf and partially deaf people, said it is in ‘turmoil’.

Service co-ordinator Barbara Martin told the Gazette: "Everybody is in turmoil about it all. There is quite a deaf community in Yate and this is going to have a big impact."

The association was formed in 1993 and moved into Frome House, under a rent-free agreement with the council, two years later. Last year a resource computer base was opened, thanks to a donation from the Gazette’s parent company the Gannett Foundation, to help deaf people gain independence.

It has a contract with the NHS to provide signers and interpreters for deaf people in hospital and runs coffee mornings, craft workshops and drop-in advice sessions.

Said Mrs Martin: "We will have to look at renting offices and paying for facilities but we just do not have the budget. To go from paying nothing to full rent and council tax is going to have a big impact.

"The council has held discussions about moving us to another area of South Gloucestershire but people in Yate have supported us for so many years and we are not going to leave them behind."

Town councillor Chris Willmore said: "It is absolutely critical that deaf people have somewhere to go where they can be certain they can communicate with people.

"This is a very vulnerable group of people and I am very worried."

Frome House also contains an elderly people’s home which is being rebuilt as part of a council reorganisation plan.

A council spokesman said: "Frome House is due to close at the end of this year when the site will be redeveloped to provide a brand new, state-of-the-art, 21st century care home for this part of the district.

"The deaf association has been made aware of this and the council is working closely with them to identify a suitable alternative and a number of options are currently being considered."

The association may move into vacated offices at Ridgewood Community Centre but is appealing to anyone with office space and meeting rooms to contact them on 01454 316460.