More help available for Harlow residents with hearing loss

Communities / Tue 4th Oct 2016 pm31 01:25pm

DeafnessVITAL information support services run by charity Action on Hearing Loss that enable isolated older people to better manage their hearing loss will be expanded across three areas of the UK including Essex in a bid to tackle social isolation.

268,000 people are living with hearing loss in Essex. The vast majority of these are aged over 50, with the condition more likely to occur the older people get. Those who leave the condition unmanaged face barriers to communication, making it more likely that they withdraw from social situations and become isolated.

To challenge these issues the charity has received £972,681 from the Big Lottery Fund to expand its Hear to Inform and Connect project in three areas across the UK, including the South East of England. This will be delivered by Action on Hearing Loss specialist staff and trained volunteers working within local communities in Essex, particularly focusing on the hardest to reach groups including the 25% of the Essex population living in rural communities.

The service will provide invaluable face-to-face support to empower and increase the number of older people who take action to manage their hearing loss. Through a mixture of information stands and talks offering advice on all aspects of hearing loss from getting hearing aids to learning how to lip-read, the project will help people be better informed and keep them connected to family, friends and the world around them.

Research also shows that hearing loss is closely linked to mental health issues, doubling the risk of developing depression and increasing the risk of anxiety. The charity will help organisations in Essex, such as community clubs and voluntary groups, to become more accessible and ensure that they increase their ability to support those living with deafness, tinnitus and hearing loss more effectively.

This coincides with the International Day of Older Persons on 1 October, a designated day by the United Nations to recognise the important contributions that older people make to the world, while raising awareness about ageing issues.

Crystal Rolfe, Head of London and South East services at charity Action on Hearing Loss said: “We are delighted that the Big Lottery Fund have awarded us this money to help us to reach the 268,000 people living with hearing loss in Essex who may be feeling isolated due to their hearing loss. Through our existing face-to-face work across the country, we have seen many peoples’ quality of life greatly improved with our support, whether this is through giving guidance on specialist equipment, learning to lip-read or simply having a chat about their individual needs.

“We look forward to speaking to residents across Essex and we would call on anyone interested in getting involved as a volunteer for delivery of the project to get in touch so that we can begin to reach as many people who may be affected by hearing loss as possible.”

Joe Ferns, UK Knowledge and Portfolio Director at the Big Lottery Fund said: “This project is equipping older people who may face barriers to accessing services with vital information and tools to help manage their hearing loss. Those living with the condition can feel socially isolated and this project tackles this head on by breaking down communication barriers and enabling older people to talk through their issues with trained staff and volunteers.”

The project is due to launch in November 2016 with funding running for three years. For more information on Hear to Inform and Connect including to register your interest as a volunteer or supporting organisation, contact Crystal Rolfe on [email protected] or 020 7296 8362.

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