Northern Enterprise Awards 2020

18 | Northern Enterprise Awards 2020 Oct20656 Leading Champions of Deaf Community Support - Greater Manchester Manchester Deaf Centre (MDC) is committed to empowering deaf people so they can navigate public, private, voluntary and community sector services – and access the information, advice and guidance; opportunities of learning and vocational training, work experience and employment, recreation and friendship; and medical or welfare support they need to find independence and fulfilment in a predominantly hearing and sometimes exclusive world. “This is our raison d’etre – and this is our theory of change,” explains Project Manager Mark Woodall. “We empower and enable, improving deaf people’s life experience, health and well- being, and increasing their contribution to our city as economically active citizens and participants in community development.” MDC has been providing support to hard of hearing, deaf and deaf blind residents of Manchester for 175 years and the organisation is held in high regard by the city’s D/deaf community and considered the come-to place for help. Established in 1846, MDC is the largest organisation to provide support to the local deaf community and beyond in Greater Manchester. It hosts a variety of services and groups that offer support, learning and training opportunities, social events and much more. MDC also offers deaf awareness training to employers new to engagement with deaf people, so that managers can better understand deaf culture and adjust in the workplace. “Our employment, training and enterprise offers support in overcoming barriers to work, help with job search, application and transition to the workplace, work with employers to breakdown perceived barriers to the employment of deaf people. Our Wellbeing group provides activities to reduce isolation, increase community involvement and improve overall health and wellbeing for adult deaf people in Manchester.” Mark himself is profoundly deaf and was raised within a deaf family, with his mother, father and brother all being deaf too. Growing up, Mark experienced daily barriers and became passionate about finding ways to overcome such issues and to help people in a similar situation. The Royal National Institute for Deaf People produced a report which stated that 74% of deaf people are unemployed, making them four times more likely to be unemployed than a hearing person. This figure was given prior to the recession and any talk of Brexit or Covid. Therefore, it is very likely that this figure will now have significantly increased. The employment service offers an end-to-end service for job seekers. “We regularly speak to potential employers to diminish any misconceptions or concerns they have regarding employing a deaf person (which are usually related to communication and health & safety). Once employment has commenced, we continue to support our service users and their employers by providing cultural mediation, deaf/ hearing awareness and support with Access to Work, to ensure sustainability.” An exciting development has seen Manchester Deaf Centre being recently awarded funding through the National Lottery Community Fund to deliver a new WAITE (Well Being, Advocacy, Information, Training, Employment) service. This will allow the Centre to apply learning from its already highly successful ERSA (Employment Related Services’ Association) award-winning Job Club project; engage and improve the lives of people affected by hearing loss in Manchester (estimated to be 51,000). Mark is heading up the new WAITE scheme and is excited by what it can offer. “We are pleased that our WAITE project has got off to such a positive start over the last 10 months, and started equipping and empowering currently marginalised deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing people to connect with the city of which they are a part in ways they haven’t before. This is being done through engagement with its culture, history, green spaces, recreational and sporting facilities.” The WAITE service will allow for closer alignment and mutually supportive working between staff and volunteers across MDC organisation and a more joined-up service-user experience. Regarding the future, Mark tells us that there are many plans for further development other than the WAITE scheme. For example, the upskilling of staff will maximise synergies, efficiencies and effectiveness across the organisation. The organisation is also keen to go after the Disability Confident kitemark which will equip MDC to diversify its Board of trustees and workforce. Ambition Quality and Hear by Right will together ensure that MDC can continue to give children and young people a voice in framing and adding to its future organisational and service development plans. Work towards the Trusted Charity kitemark will bring trustees and staff closer together in ensuring the organisation’s work compliance with the law, learning from and alignment with enriching activities in parallel. Works on fundraising and financial diversification will reduce organisational dependence on cyclical grant funding, establishing MDC in a position of relative financial strength. Company: Manchester Deaf Centre Contact: Mark Woodall Web Address: Dedicated to supporting the deaf and hard of hearing community, Manchester Deaf Centre is a hub for inclusion, advocacy, accessibility, support, training and information. Mark Woodall tells us how a new service is helping to establish the organisation as a beacon of excellence and opportunity.