Councillors ‘inspired’ by work of deaf charity

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Councillors attending a meeting of Council last Tuesday night were given a glipse of what life is like for a deaf person, when Dungiven based charity ‘Hands That Talk’ gave a presentation.

As part of the presentation, the charity revealed its plans to buy the building it currently operates from in Dungiven.

The charity, based in Dungiven, serves the wider North West area but is hoping to reach out to deaf people in the new Causeway Coast and Glens council area.

The organisation offers a number of services for the deaf community from educational courses, sign posting services, sign language, interpreter services and a charity shop.

The organisation recently missed out on £2.5 million funding from the ‘Strategic Investment Fund’ it had hoped would fund a new base. Trustee Dorothy Hegarty told Causeway councillors during the hour-long presentation that a plan and site had been passed, and the application was proceeding well until the last minute when it fell through.

Mrs Hegarty said the group is thinking long term towards a specially-designed deaf building open for use for the whole community.

Hands That Talk Chairman James McKernan and Trustee Coleen Agnew told members, via interpreter Donna McGlinchey, their current building needs to be updated and made more visual friendly.

“We are hoping you can help us,” Ms Agnew told members. “We will continue to develop our services and expand our social enterprise. We want to become as independent as possible but we will need your ongoing support.”

Councillors appeared to be captivated by the presentation, and all those who spoke and asked questions praised Hands That Talk for their work.

Ballymoney DUP councillor Ian Stevenson said he didn’t want it to be a case of “the presentation is over and you go home”.

It was subsequently agreed that Council would look at the issue of the Strategic Investment Funding and why Hands That Talk missed out.

“Keep in touch to see what we can do to help. Thank you so much. You have inspired me,” said the Ballymoney councillor.

Councillors accepted the offer from Mr Hegarty to attend a workshop.

Members were also asked to consider learning sign language.