England and Scotland’s two oldest charities for deaf adults have announced plans to collaborate and share a chief executive, with a view to working towards a merger.
Deaf Connections in Scotland and the Royal Association for Deaf People, known as RAD, in England, hope the move will lead eventually to the creation of a UK-wide charity to support deaf sign language users.
The two charities will retain separate identities but work under a single chief executive, Jan Sheldon, the current chief executive of RAD.
Sheldon will also assume the leadership of Deaf Connections on 30 June, when its current chief executive, Gordon Chapman, retires after 29 years with the charity.
The two organisations hope that other charities for the deaf will join the group structure. In a joint statement, the two organisations said: "The critical mass created by such collaborative working will have a direct impact on the range of services available to the deaf community, an impact much greater than each organisation could deliver on its own."
The charities said the alliance would not affect services. Initially, each organisation will keep separate assets and liabilities and retain their own boards. They will adopt the same strategic plan and share back-office functions, but no staff are expected to have to move office or lose their jobs.
Margaret Aitken, chair of Deaf Connections, said: "The only way specialist services for deaf Sign Language users can be protected is by organisations such as Deaf Connections and RAD working together.
"Our history, values and service provision are very similar, so we are confident that we can make this collaboration work. This is a big step for us, but we believe it is one worth taking."
Deaf Connections has a staff of 47 people, and an annual turnover of £1.3m; RAD has a staff of 66 people and a turnover of £3.39m.