Local deaf and hearing impaired people have welcomed new BSL-supported activities and church services now running at Emmanuel Church, Stoughton.
‘Guildford Deaf Social’ offers signing and interpretation at two different styles of session: a clergy-led Holy Communion service with readings, prayers and a sermon, followed by a friendship club for retired people with a variety of social activities. Its aim is to reduce isolation for hearing impaired people, who may struggle to connect with church services, or feel shut off from the rest of the congregation and community.
The first sessions in February and March attracted a small group of profoundly deaf visitors, all of whom expressed how enjoyable they had found it and how much they were looking forward to coming again.
Diocesan sensory inclusion adviser, Tracey Wade, provides communication support at the sessions. She commented:
“It’s great to be able to provide this new service to the hearing impaired in the diocese. It’s a vital resource that can reduce isolation and aid inclusion. I’ve had such a positive response from the attendees – one who travelled all the way from West Byfleet, and another had stopped attending his Sunday service , so this is a chance for him to reconnect with church.
“After the service we moved into the coffee shop to enjoy a chat over coffee. I received a text from another member of the deaf community to tell us that her father had been rushed to hospital so we took a moment to pray for him and his family.”
Guildford Deaf Social runs on the first Wednesday of each month at Emmanuel Church, Stoughton. For more information about the group or sensory inclusion in the Diocese of Guildford, see www.cofeguildford.org.uk/sensory-inclusion or contact Tracey Wade at firstname.lastname@example.org