Christmas Round Up
As we approach Christmas I wanted to take this opportunity to thank all staff, volunteers and supporters for your commitment during 2016.
Every year is busy at Deaf Direct and this year has been no different. We have welcomed new staff and volunteers, including our new Chair of Trustees, Michael Tickle, who will help drive the charity forward towards its 2020 Vision. We thank our outgoing Chair, Robin Caley, for his dedication and passion. We are grateful for his continued support as an Associate Trustee.
We have also welcomed 5 Deaf Direct babies! Congratulations Katie, Paul, Breish, Sophie and Amanda – we hope you enjoy your first Christmas with your new bundles of joy.
Our first singing and sign language choir was launched in September and has been going from strength to strength. Although the singing element is being re-launched in the New Year, the choir is already in demand. Along with performing the traditional carols on the Saturday of the Victorian Fayre, we were also invited to perform at the Opening Ceremony this year.
Thank you to all the choir members and leaders who have worked so hard to make the performances a success and to all volunteers who joined us for the Christmas carols.
Deaf Direct was proud to receive its Worcestershire Works Well Level 1 Accreditation at the end of November. The scheme is aimed at improving the health and wellbeing of employees and represents savings for the charity in terms of reduced sickness absences. We are looking forward to working towards Level 2 of the award.
We have also been busy with our Tablet4Health project. We work in partnership with SignHealth on this project, which is funded by the Department of Health. The aim of the project is ‘Improving Deaf Patients’ Experience and Access through Telecommunications Technology’. Through the project, sign language users can communicate with health professionals such as GPs and hospitals by using online sign language interpreters. The pilot project is going well, with variable results. These results will be fed back to the Department of Health to help decide whether telecommunications technology would be an effective communication method for sign language users to benefit from on a daily basis.
Facts and Figures from 2016:
Interpreter booking numbers have increased by 12.5% (Jan-end of November) which equates to 635 more bookings this year. Deaf Direct now delivers interpreter services in Telford due to our new contract with Telford and Wrekin Borough Council. The Interpreting Team in Oxford has also expanded to now include 2 full-time and one part-time interpreter.
In 2016 we visited 180 homes to install equipment to combat the effects of hearing loss. For some, this equipment, such as flashing doorbells, amplified telephones and personal listeners, can be life-changing. You can hear Graham’s account of how the equipment we provided changed his Mum’s life here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KeptRNUICbk
As we approach New Year, we are also looking to the future. With an ageing population, there will be increasing numbers of older, hard of hearing people needing our services. We are looking at new and exciting ways of reaching out to hard of hearing people, particularly those who are isolated. If you visited Vesta Tilley House towards the end of November or during December, you may have noticed the brand new Deaf Direct One-Stop Shop vehicle.
Delivering equipment via home visits will be a large part of the work of the One-Stop Shop. The vehicle will also be used at community events to showcase equipment and so that we can offer guidance and support to people living with hearing loss. This is just one way we are making our presence more visible in the community and we can’t wait to see the results in 2017 – our 90th Anniversary Year.
Another exciting part of our future is the merger between Deaf Direct and the Oxford Deaf and Hard of Hearing Centre. This merger will allow us to build on the existing work of the Oxford Deaf and Hard of Hearing Centre and ensure we can reach more D/deaf and hard of hearing people in Oxfordshire.
On 16th December I was invited to 10 Downing Street for a Local Charities Day Reception, hosted by The Rt Hon Karen Bradley MP with the Minister for Civil Society Rob Wilson MP. This event was part of Local Charities Day; where local charities are recognised and thanked for their energy, commitment, expertise, and the benefits they bring to the local communities. The invitation marks the culmination of this year’s flourishing relationship with the Department of Culture, Media and Society; and one we hope to nuture in the year ahead.
Our Youth Services continue to be much-needed for improving confidence and opportunities for D/deaf and hard of hearing children and young people. This year, our Summer Residential took place in Devon and once again attendees enjoyed learning new skills, making friends and being pushed outside of their comfort zone to achieve new things.
Exciting news for next year: Deaf Direct has received funding to deliver sign language training to parents and families of deaf children. We are currently investigating the best ways to use this funding within the next 12 months. If you are interested in this training, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are thankful for the generosity of businesses, individuals and Grant-Making Organisations who have supported the work of the charity this year. In an increasingly unstable economic environment, your donations have helped over 6,000 local people with hearing loss. Thank you.
Deaf Direct will not be open during the week between Christmas and New Year. We will close at 5pm on 23rd December and will reopen at 9am on Tuesday 3rd January. If you need an Interpreter during the Christmas break or before Friday 6th January, please call our out-of-hours-service on 07725 244129 who will be happy to assist you.
There is much more we could tell you about, but I hope this update has given you some insight into a very busy year. All that remains is for me to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year from Deaf Direct – we are certainly looking forward to a very exciting 2017.