[Local News Warning]

Mappin Blind Institute is to close. This will be a disaster for anyone who is not a business wanting to run events in the center of Sheffield. There is nowhere comparable for location, size, versatility and affordability. Many community groups, cultural and other non-profit groups rely on the Blind Institute for events (and fund-raising). Yikes!

I’m sure someone knows more of the ins and outs of the bulldozing redevelopment of the building (please God let it not be for more luxery flats!), but its not me. So I wrote to the manager of the Blind Institute Steve Hambleton (address below, with my letter). If anyone knows any more, or has any suggestions for points of leverage to do something about the situation, please get in touch.

Steve Hambleton, General Manager
Sheffield Royal Society for the Blind
5 Mappin Street
Sheffield, S1 4DT

Dear Mr Hambleton,

I was disturbed to learn that the Mappin Street Blind Institute is to be redeveloped (a.k.a knocked down). I’m sure I don’t need to persuade you of the variety and vitality of the events that the Blind Institute hosts, but I did want to write and communicate my distress that this venue is to cease to exist.

There is no other venue that is so suitable for hosting community, fund-raising and musical events by non-profit groups. Nowhere else is as affordable, as central (and safe) nor as versatile as a venue. Just in the last year I’ve attended meals, dances, gigs and conferences in the Blind Institute by a range of non-profit community and cultural groups. The loss of the Blind Institute will be a disaster for non-commercial culture in Sheffield!

So, some questions:

What, if anything, can be done to stop the redevelopment of the building?
What can be done to ensure that the redevelopment plan includes provision for establishing alternative venues for all the facilities the Blind Institute currently provides?
In whose hands is the coordination of the redevelopment? What are their contact details?

You’ll have to excuse my ignorance of the plans, but I only just found out about them and wanted to write to you immediately to register my dismay. If you are able to answer any or all of these questions I would be most grateful. Email is just as good as post, if that is more convenient for you.

Many thanks,
Yours,

Tom Stafford

update: Note corrected name, Steve Hambleton (not Mather)