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Deafness support group celebrates 20 years of helping people

Cake cutting time at the 20th anniversary party of the Durham Deafened Support group (left to right) Alex and Jane Atkinson (group members) Isabel Roberts (chair of Horden Parish Council) and Dr. David Blackwell (chair of the group management board). Picture by Frank Reid
Cake cutting time at the 20th anniversary party of the Durham Deafened Support group (left to right) Alex and Jane Atkinson (group members) Isabel Roberts (chair of Horden Parish Council) and Dr. David Blackwell (chair of the group management board). Picture by Frank Reid

A support group for people who are hard of hearing or living with deafness has celebrated its 20th anniversary.

Durham Deafened Support (DDS), based at Horden Social Welfare Centre, marked the occasion with a party for its members and staff yesterday.

The 20th anniversary party of the Durham Deafened Support group held in the Welfare Hall Horden. Picture by Frank Reid

The 20th anniversary party of the Durham Deafened Support group held in the Welfare Hall Horden. Picture by Frank Reid

The group started out as just four people who were hard of hearing with the aim of supporting others who had a sudden profound hearing loss and weren’t coping with their disability.

It has since expanded to cater for those who had also experienced sudden, gradual, or slighthearing loss, in acknowledgement of how isolating it can be.

The group was formally registered as a charity in May 1998 under its original name of East Durham Deafened and Hearing Impaired Support (EDDIS), and changed to its current name in 2003.

Jane Atkinson, DDS coordinator, said: “DDS have gained experience in identifying the needs of deafened and hard of hearing people and help them to understand and to cope with the changes that hearing loss has made to their lives.

“We have a holistic approach to hearing loss, looking at the whole person and not just the hearing.

“We now have one full- time administrator and four part- time staff who work together in creating a better quality of life for anyone with hearing loss.

“Deafened people still suffer social exclusion and health inequalities, but we strive to make a difference.”

The group, which also has a base at HUB at Keller Court in Langley Moor, offers weekly drop-in sessions, training, annual events and social groups.

To mark the occasion, members and staff gathered at Horden Social Welfare Centre to hear speeches from the likes of Police and Crime Commissioner Ron Hogg and Dr David Blackwell.

Guests also enjoyed entertainment and raffles and had the opportunity to write the benefits of DDS on an anniversary tree.