Children’s charity supports Deaf Awareness Week

Harley Duggan, two, with speech and language therapist Charlotte Emery
Harley Duggan, two, with speech and language therapist Charlotte Emery
Picture: Malcolm Wells

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A CHARITY wants to highlight the needs of deaf children and the work done nationally to support them during Deaf Awareness Week.

The Elizabeth Foundation For Deaf Children (EFDC), based in Portsmouth, teaches deaf children up to the age of five to listen and speak.

The group requires £800,000 in funding per year to continue its vital work.

Some months ago it received more than £100,000 from BBC’s Children in Need. This meant the foundation was able to secure the assistance of speech and language therapist Charlotte Emery for three years. Charlotte has worked with a child and his family from Portchester.

Julie Hughes, EFDC chief executive, said: ‘Deaf Awareness Week, which started on Monday, is so important.

‘We need more people to know about deafness in general and also that deaf children can learn to listen and to speak – it isn’t something that should hold them back.

‘The funding we received from Children in Need was so important to us and we’re so grateful – it’s allowed us to continue the work we do.

‘We see more than 80 children each year across nine different counties.’

As well as EFDC, which provides nursery and pre-school services, Children in Need are funding 10 other projects in the city, including Motiv8, Society of St James and Pompey in the Community.

A family from Portchester witnessed first-hand the great work done by The Elizabeth Foundation, when Harley Duggan, now two, was diagnosed as profoundly deaf in both ears at 28 days old.

The news was a shock to the family.

Mum Sharie said: ‘I still remember the moment we found out. It was such a blow, all I could do was cry.’

After attending the charity’s baby and toddler group and having cochlear implants fitted, Harley is now ready to work with the Children in Need-funded therapist.

Since working with the group as a whole, Sharie said Harley was paying attention to far more noises.

She added: ‘We want to give Harley every option available to be able to communicate and understand us.

‘The support we’ve received from the EFDC has made us feel more confident that we will all get there together.’