This week, Michelle Dickinson and Rachael Farrell, the Foundation’s very own dynamic duo, visited the Doncaster & District Deaf Society to conduct a community consultation as a part of their Vital Signs Research.

During each community consultation, groups answer ten questions related to the 10 vital signs themes such as Mental Health, Crime and Safety, and the Natural Environment. These consultations collect detailed qualitative data, offering deeper understanding of the challenges individuals encounter. The consultations highlight new viewpoints that are often ignored but carry considerable significance.

When discussing preferred employment and training opportunities, individuals highlighted the importance of raising awareness about deafness in workplace and among employers. These groups emphasised their valuable contributions to employers, but how they often faced hesitation or dismissal due to a lack of awareness and understanding from businesses surrounding deaf individuals.

One individual commented:

Employers with deaf and disabled awareness training would be great

Speaking further in this subject, another individual shared a story, commenting:

A friend of mine has a university degree and a PhD. They sent their CV around everywhere but did not get any responses on the CV. They put that they were deaf on the CV. He decided to remove that he was deaf on his CV and sent that CV out and got lots of interviews. When the employee realised that he was deaf, they said, “oh you haven't put that on your CV” and he explained, well, I never got any interviews. He didn't get any of the jobs in the end

The Deaf Society and Deaf Community Centre, run by deaf volunteers, prioritizes the mental health and well-being of British Sign Language Users of all ages and abilities. It serves as a social hub, promoting welfare, confidence, and accessibility through various initiatives. The centre collaborates with the NHS and Doncaster Council to advocate for deaf rights and provide literacy training for employment opportunities.

The Society aims to prevent isolation, loneliness, and exclusion by promoting empowerment, social inclusion, welcoming deaf blind members, wheelchair users, members with mental illness, learning difficulties and Usher syndrome.

This enables its five deaf lead sub groups: OAP, Social, Leisure (families, adults, teenagers and children), Parent & Toddler and Drama to meet safely, and comfortably to enjoy and have fun, participating in a wide variety of activities, events, annual day and weekend trips, theatre trips, provided for deaf people, by deaf people promoting and maintaining their unique language and culture.

Doncaster has the highest ratio of those registered as deaf in the UK. Deaf people are in the main socially excluded and isolated. For some Deaf people, the experiences associated with Deafness, particularly communication difficulties, are so damaging that people can reach adult life with many social and behavioural difficulties. Please note the average reading age of a deaf adult is 10 years old. The centre offers the Deaf Communities the chance to come together for social and recreational activities, improve literacy and numeracy skills, IT skills, gain training and qualifications, access job search support and advice with the aim of getting full time employment. The Deaf Community view the centre as vital to helping them overcome the barriers they face in society. Without the facilities offered within the centre Deaf people would be facing elevated levels of isolation, exclusion, mental health problems and anxiety all of which also affect quality of life and general health and wellbeing. Mental Health training is delivered at the deaf centre through a deaf trainer. The object to remove 'taboo' and to build awareness and understanding of what mental illness is all about.

Funding Success

During COVID-19, Doncaster & District Deaf Soicety received a grant from the Foundation to revitalise their centre, creating a more welcoming space for activities.

It has been amazing throughout Covid and being in contact with the staff at SYCF and the professional contacts out there they have access to, for the benefit of vulnerable charitable organisations who struggle to access advice, information, and the right support.

People sitting and talking with covid face shields on

Sophie's Story

The story of 'Sophie' who was referred to the Deaf Society because she was deaf and needed support in British Sign Language. After losing everything in the 2019 Bentley floods, Sophie was struggling to get her lonely life back on track financially, socially and finding employment and training opportunities. Her life became more isolated through lockdown and accessing vital services.

The Society loaned Sophie an Apple iPad, allowing her to search for jobs, play games, download Netflix and Amazon Prime and supported her with a successful SYCF funding application. This enabled her to replace items she lost in the Bentley floods and build a more comfortable home for herself in Doncaster. Her confidence grew as well as interacting with deaf community centre volunteers, as she herself became a volunteer. with use. Always reliable, with a smiling face. Being introduced to other deaf people and working together, Sophie was enjoying the companionship, fun and lively BSL chats, cheering her up along the way.

People doing construction work

For more information on Vital Signs, visit: Vital Signs

Meet Rachael

Rachael coordinates the delivery of philanthropic activities, working collaboratively within different teams, community groups and donors to bring about exciting new opportunities. She is also head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) for the Foundation as well as overseeing South Yorkshire’s Giving Network. Her working days are Monday to Friday.

Rachael Farrell

Philanthropy Coordinator

Rachael Farrell's LinkedIn page
Rachael Farrell