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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 June, 2004, 16:50 GMT 17:50 UK
Deaf community to be 'reunited'
A patient having a consultation with a BSL interpreter
It is hoped that the plans will help deaf people living in the area
Moves are being made to reunite the deaf community in the Gwent valleys with a new city centre meeting place.

The Deaf Association of Gwent wants to rebuild the deaf community in the region, after feeling it has become fragmented.

They have been awarded a grant of 10,000 towards the setting up and running of an office in Newport.

The group also wants to build up a database of deaf people in the area in order to establish better links.

Bob Webb, secretary with the association, said that over the years the close knit community of deaf and hard of hearing people in the region had dwindled.

He said this was mainly due to the location of a deaf club in Newport moving to a different part of the city.

RNID Statistics in Wales
Mild / moderate deafness: 439,000 adults in Wales
Severe / profound deafness: 36,000 adults in Wales
An estimated 475,000 people in Wales have some level of deafness

"It used to be a very strong community with people coming in to Newport from Ebbw Vale, Brynmawr, Abertillery and other places to meet up," he said.

"It was easy to get to and people would come from everywhere in Gwent.

"But then it moved to its site in Alway and people have stopped coming and the community has splintered.

"It has got to the point now where we just don't know how many people in the Gwent area are deaf or who they are."

The Deaf Association of Gwent plans to use the grant from the European Social Risk Fund, to set up a central office in Newport, which would also act as a drop in centre.

We want to be able to provide help and support to people in the deaf community as well as a befriending service
Bob Webb, Deaf Association Gwent

The group has been awarded a 10,000 grant to run the centre for a year and members are now searching for a suitable premises.

It is hoped that when the database is completed a study can be done to assess if there is a need for a community support worker who can link the community even further.

"We want to be able to provide help and support to people in the deaf community as well as a befriending service," said Mr Webb.

"At the moment we simply don't know where or who the people are who might benefit from this and we want to change this and rebuild the community," he added.


SEE ALSO:
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28 May 04  |  Technology
Guide for deaf mothers-to-be
30 Apr 04  |  Health
NHS 'failing' deaf patients
03 Mar 04  |  Health


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