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Listen Here! This bus is a good idea

PUBLISHED: 15:14 17 July 2008 | UPDATED: 11:24 03 July 2010

A NEW service for the deaf and hard of hearing pulled in to Acle on Tuesday - with another visit to Stalham yesterday.

The Listen Here! minibus visited Herondale at Acle for two hours on Tuesday for the second time.

A NEW service for the deaf and hard of hearing pulled in to Acle on Tuesday - with another visit to Stalham yesterday.

The Listen Here! minibus visited Herondale at Acle for two hours on Tuesday for the second time. The initiative was launched by the Norfolk Deaf Association at its Deaf Awareness Festival at the Forum, Norwich on May 7.

The mobile clinic has been set up to help deaf and hard of hearing people to cope with the problems that have arisen because of their deafness.

Secretary and trustee John Hirst said: “So far the response has been very good. If you need help from a medical centre you will inevitably have to book an appointment. With the Listen Here! bus you can turn up any time for advice and support along with practical help such as re-tubing NHS hearing aids, supplying free batteries or to have a chat with our trained volunteers and pick up some leaflets.”

Visitors to Listen Here! are also given details of courses available in sign language and lip reading.

Pearl Parker, from Acle, said: “It's wonderful that this facility will be here frequently as it means I won't have to travel to Great Yarmouth for the batteries I need for the hearing aid. It's a very good idea.”

Greer Ecclestone, from Reedham, said: “I am a carer and for some people this may have meant a visit to the James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston. This will be particularly beneficial for deaf people in rural areas.”

The new mobile unit will travel to more than 20 venues a month.

Director of the Norfolk Deaf Association Adrian Soskin said: “Of the 124,000 Norfolk people that are registered as deaf, only 34pc receive any support for their condition. It is NDA's mission to improve that statistic and increase both awareness and access to the wide variety of services available. The right support can make such a difference in improving the standard of living of a deaf sufferer.”

The Listen Here! mobile unit reached the final of the Sunday People's Man of the People Award which was set up to recognise the achievements of the nation's 12 most deserving charities.

Mr Hirst added: “We were fortunate in being awarded more than £79,000 from the Lottery and that has meant we have been able to buy the mini-bus, convert it and train the volunteers. But we will need £25,000 to keep the service going next year.”

As well as Mr Hirst, volunteers on hand this week were Mary Johnson and Spencer Shaw both of whom have had experience of deafness.

The minibus will return to Acle on Tuesday, August 19 from 10am-noon and Stalham on Thursday, August 21 from 1-3pm at Staithe surgery car park.

For more information, to volunteer on the bus, or to find out about sponsorship for 2009, contact project coordinator, Pam Spicer on 01603 404440 or email listenhere@

norfolkdeaf.org.uk

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