FOR many deaf people, the biggest frustration is not understanding what is going on around them.

Communicating with other people can be a tiring task, becoming mentally, as well as physically, straining as one party tries to comprehend another.

But instead of lingering on what they cannot do, deaf people are being inspired to think about what they can do even better despite the challenges they face.

The Royal Association for Deaf People, based in North Station Road, Colchester, aims to help.

Kerry Cole, head of marketing and PR, said deaf people can be affected by seemingly everyday issues.

She said: “Take Colchester station, for example.

“If a train is delayed, there is often an announcement over tannoy.

“Deaf people cannot hear this and so may be standing there at the platform not knowing what is going on.

“What makes the charity different is we are not an organisation helping from the outside.

“We work with the deaf community to make people as independent as possible.

“We take the time to understand and deliver what matters to deaf people in their identity, community, heritage and diversity and what we do is develop services and partnerships that they need.”


The charity’s Colchester Life Skills Group, which specialises in helping to develop important independent living skills, meets at the Oak Tree Centre, in Harwich Road, Colchester.

Users can be referred by a GP, but the greatest number of referrals come from social workers.

Participants either live with a carer or in an assisted living environment.

They meet from 9am to 1am on a Friday mornings in an environment which allows them socialise and communicate with each another.

Gavin Songer, a senior support worker, said: “It is a free flowing curriculum, but most recently we have done art projects, health food and nutrition, science, basic maths.

“But mostly it is about empowerment. It is about teaching people to do things for themselves as far as they possibly can, reflecting our diverse and multicultural community. In a couple of weeks we will be running a pottery workshop, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

“At the moment, they are learning Silent Night and a range of Christmas carols to perform at a concert with a range of schools around Essex.”

Mrs Cole said: “We’d like to do is raise awareness of the deaf community so we can make a more inclusive environment for those who are deaf.”

In addition to receiving funds from donations, the Royal Association for Deaf people receives some funding from grants, trusts and local authority to deliver specific projects.

Its Silent night – make a Deaf Christmas bright appeal aims to increase Deaf Awareness and encourage people to host a “silent” event in aid of the charity.

You can sign up to its appeal at or text YULE25 £5 to 70070 to donate £5.

The Royal Association for Deaf people’s Carol Service will be held at Chelmsford Cathedral on Friday at 10.30am.

Carols and readings will be signed by members of the Deaf community and Deaf children from local schools.

The service will be conducted in British Sign Language by the Chaplain among Deaf People in the Chelmsford Diocese.