“Dear Member,” the letter says. “We are writing to give you notice that the Board of Trustees have agreed to sell the Deaf Centre building in King Square to Elm Church.”
It is with this letter that the members of Bristol Deaf Centre are finding out that the building the Deaf community has used for 127 years will no longer be their own.
This letter appeared just one day after The University of Bristol’s Centre for Deaf Studies was formally closed – amounting to a double blow for the Deaf community in Bristol.
There will be a meeting at the centre on Wednesday 7th August giving members the opportunity to ask the Board questions about the sale.
The centre has been at risk for several years. In 2011, Bristol Deaf Centre was told that £240,000 council funding for the centre would stop, putting the centre and the services offered there, including youth projects and equipment provision, under threat.
According to some reports, a £700,000 pension debt led to a crisis in funding at the centre.
In this blog, written in January 2012, a blogger called Tiger Deafie wrote about what the centre means to local people:
For 127 years Deaf people have had a meeting place, to socialise together, to build networks with local and national communities, to teach sign language classes, to ensure the more vulnerable Deaf people had support and companionship. But, above all, where hearing parents of deaf children could take their young people and introduce them to the world of Deaf people, show them role models for their future, enable them to develop an identity.
On that note a personal detour. I myself, mainstreamed (like 90-odd percent of deaf children in the UK today), still vividly recall memories of attending the annual Deaf Centre Xmas parties, to which my mother took me. Vibrant, happy, full of fun, and Deaf adults who I never had an opportunity to see daily.
So whatever the situation, the politics, the pension, the council, the services, etc, this issue is about a community, a people, a culture, a way of life, a contribution to Bristol’s history.
Bristol’s deaf community feel under seige – The Guardian, Sept 2011
By Charlie Swinbourne, The Limping Chicken’s Editor
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