Henshaws Arts & Crafts Centre in Knaresborough and Henshaws Specialist College in Harrogate are backing calls from Harrogate and Knaresborough MP Andrew Jones, Knaresborough Chamber of Trade and Commerce and local councillors for the Halifax to reconsider its decision to close its branch in Knaresborough.
The closure will leave Knaresborough without a bank and there are concerns that it will particularly affect elderly and other vulnerable people in the town.
Henshaws Arts & Crafts Centre works to empower disabled people to go beyond expectations and achieve their ambitions and the Arts & Crafts Centre is at the heart of the community.
Manager Maria Dawbarn said:
This is the only fully accessible cash point available for our visually impaired art makers and students. One of our key objectives within the charity is to promote independence, and this will take away this independence from our beneficiaries as they will need to have one-to-one support to access their weekly banking.
For the art makers that have had travel training, they will have had training in place for a mobility route around Knaresborough directly to the Halifax bank and, with this service lost, they will need to undertake new training or even have one-to-one support to access banking in Harrogate. Again, this has a huge impact on their independence.
Many of our beneficiaries prefer to have face-to-face contact with banking staff and this – for many – might be the only person they speak to or see that day or even that week, so removal of this service is a major issue in terms of social isolation. An indoor cash machine is also much more secure for those living with disabilities, where counting and organising cash outside would be a huge safety concern.
Henshaws Specialist College works with young people with special educational needs and disabilities to allow them to reach their potential, with independent living being a key ambition for many students.
Principal Adrian Sugden said:
If we have to relocate this element of our independent skills training to Harrogate, we are also taking students away from other businesses in Knaresborough, reducing their potential as customers.
The Knaresborough Chamber of Trade and Commerce has set up a petition, with more than 1,000 people signing up so far. The petition can be found at www.change.org/Save-Last-Bank-Knaresborough
Henshaws is working with the Chamber to help underline the importance of the branch to the town.
Charlotte Gale of the Chamber said:
Losing the town’s only talking cash point is very concerning at a time when we are trying to work to make the town more accessible for our residents and many visitors.