Bringing the community together

7th January 2019

The recruitment of a Development Worker at Cumbria Deaf Association has increased the confidence of Barrow’s deaf community.

Thanks to a £7,500 grant from the Cumbria Fund, 100 people have been able to access a range of community activities and support services.

Activities such as weekly information surgeries and one-to-one support have been complemented by social events, twice weekly club meetings and the introduction of a therapeutic art activities group for deaf community members with additional needs.

Educational trips and social events have formed part of the community activities programme, providing an opportunity for community members to come together to socialise, expand friendship groups and peer group activity, and as a consequence improve their mental health and emotional wellbeing. Trips included a visit to the Terracotta Army Exhibition and Art Gallery in Liverpool, a trip on the Flying Scotsman and visits to other deaf organisations.

The Development Worker also supported deaf community members to become more actively involved in co-ordinating community events and participating in a number of consultation events with the local authority. As a consequence of this activity, members provided representatives for an engagement event with the County’s Health Scrutiny Committee, to highlight the inequality of health service access and support, experienced by many deaf people. As a result it was highlighted that there was an opportunity to develop a cross sector deaf strategy to ensure an equality of service access and provision for Cumbria’s deaf residents.

Ian Wilson of Cumbria Deaf Association explained: “The grant has made dramatic and positive difference to the beneficiaries and wider community. By providing a Development Worker, we have been able to establish and develop a customised and inclusive programme of community activities and events which meet the needs of community members with varying degrees of hearing and sensory and in particular deaf community members whose first or preferred language is British Sign Language.

“The social elements and activities of the project have provided a regular, accessible community lifeline to ensure they do not experience social exclusion or isolation, can continue to participate in the life of the local community and maintain their health and emotional.”