The Deaf Community’s Challenge: Overcoming a Double Isolation

Tuesday 12th May 2020

A project run by Caritas Salford has been responding creatively to the ‘double isolation’ said to be facing the deaf community here in our diocese.

St Joseph’s Mission to Deaf People has been running for over 90 years and has recently had to adapt to respond to the needs of its community to help them to continue their faith journeys in lockdown.

The team there have been working hard to create accessible resources for the community to use. During this time of social distancing, St. Joseph’s in association with the Catholic Deaf Association continues to serve the Deaf community.  Fr Paul Fletcher SJ celebrates a signed online Mass four times a week at 8.00am on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.  Fr Jim Clarke, at St. Patrick’s, Collyhurst, celebrates Mass every Sunday that is signed and transmitted live.

One service user who has been joining the online Masses said: “When lockdown started, we only had access to prayer resources from the local parish. My husband, who is hearing, could access streamed Mass but this was not accessible for deaf people.

“Two weeks later we were very fortunate to be able to access a signed mass. It has changed everything! We get up early, have our breakfast and then tune in with other members of the deaf community from around the country – and even as far as Ireland.

“On Good Friday, my son and two grandchildren were even able to join. Seeing all the other deaf people there, who often sign the readings, makes us to feel even more a part of the Mass.”

Sr Maria McCready of the Evron Sisters based in Collyhurst, North Manchester, has a background in social work and specialises in work with the deaf community both in the Diocese of Salford and nationally through the Catholic Deaf Association.

Currently, much of her time is spent interpreting and advocating for older Deaf people who have difficulty accessing pharmacies, health centres, GPs and even the police, as well as looking after themselves and staying healthy particularly as mental wellbeing is an issue for some deaf people during the Covid 19 Coronavirus pandemic.

Sr Maria said: “The social distancing and self-isolation rules mean that some deaf people have become doubly isolated. With so few hearing people able to communicate through British Sign Language, many elderly deaf people have become cut off from their community  and essential services. The people I serve are not up to date with modern technology and social media so it’s important that I can advocate and speak up for them and their needs.  It’s essential that their needs are recognised materially, socially and spiritually.”

Peter McDonough (pictured), who helps to lead the service, has been working tirelessly to produce different resources for the community.

Working alongside Sr. Maria is a dedicated group of volunteers who are part of the deaf community and offer their voluntary services to ensure that St. Joseph’s Mission to Deaf People is active in this period of the such enormous disruption that is causing so much stress and anxiety to some who are finding it difficult to cope.

St Joseph’s Mission to Deaf People and Caritas Salford will continue supporting the deaf community now and as we move out of the crisis. The service is certainly meeting the spiritual needs of people but it is also supporting the mental health and wellbeing of many vulnerable and anxious older people in the deaf community who see the service as a lifeline.

Help Caritas Salford to continue its valuable work by visiting:

Facebook Twitter

Tagged | Caritas

In other news