I remember my first conversation with Suzie at the college about eight or nine years ago, that I would like to help or be involved with the Deaf Community to improve their needs.
Since 2014, four of us set up Access Bedford where we had a Deaf Open Day which had a great turn out and was really successful, set up a youth club for ages 13 – 25 where it’s so nice to see the youngest enjoying themselves and meeting new people which we are doing for their future. We have set up Young at Heart for over 55s which is a café at Salvation Army where they meet up in the day for their safety, meet their friends and new people too. Also we set up every two months for over 18s to meet at the Kings Arms Pub for social drinks and again to meet friends. Access Bedford attend the events, to catch up, with the newsletter to give out which we do every month and listen to them about what do they need help with. Examples where they needed help were where we have set up an email for the hospital to make queries and in an emergency how to register for texting service for the police etc.
We also met Mayor Dave Hodgson and kindly see his room the Mayors Parlour and everyone enjoy the story about Bedford history. In April 2015 we met the MP and Mayor candidates to ask the questions about deafness and how can they help or to improve services. The election and voting we help deaf people to understand how to vote, very kind of Richard Fuller MP came and talked through voting and that was the first time he met the deaf people and now he has our passion. My favourite was counting the votes for the Election in May 2015 and meeting lots of people and understanding more on politics.
Looking back I am proud of myself to have this aim for the best in the future because – 1) my daughter age seven is deaf and I am deaf myself which makes me more twice to realise how much is involved for deafness and for their needs as we struggle with services, 2) my mum died of cancer and quickly I realised how much I did rely on my mum for help on everything. Being with Access Bedford has made me so confident to meet people and doing things that should be right for my needs.
I would love to see myself in a deaf café where deaf people can drop in for a chat and advice or help, also for hearing people to drop in and learn BSL. I love to help people and to make sure they get the right equal service as hearing people get.
What is most important is deaf education for deaf children who attend mainstream school. I am working to have a coffee morning or afternoon where deaf children’s parents come to meet other parents to talk about their child. We will invite other deaf children from other schools in Bedford to meet up for a social as this is their future and being friends together if they can’t get on with hearing children due to lack of communication. It will be called Social for Deaf Children and run every week with parents coming once a month. I am also on the committee with Bedfordshire Deaf Children’s Society and I am a carer and attend the youth club and carer café with Carers in Beds.
Overall, I would like to see Bedford to help deaf people and have great services we can use.