Meet: Morag Rosie and Stuart Harrison, who have written a book about FYD, called ‘You CAN do it!’

Posted on December 2, 2015

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Stuart Harrison recently launched his new book: You Can Do It! The FYD Story. It is the result of a three-year collaboration with co-author Morag Rosie MBE, a former Director of Friends for the Young Deaf. The book is set as a biography of Morag and her involvement in the deaf charity known to thousands as “FYD”.

The book charts the life of Morag, starting with the influence of her parents and then introduces the moment that she came across the founder of FYD – Denis Uttley. The rest of the story is about FYD itself, its philosophy, people, projects and activities.

It is a very honest and endearing account of the triumphs and tribulations of running a charity for children and young people with moments that deal with conflicts within the workplace and challenges of keeping charities afloat. Below, both talk about the book and what led them to write it.

What led you both to work together on this book ?

Morag: After reading a book about another charity, Stuart was inspired to write me an email in December 2012 asking me if I knew of anyone writing a book about FYD and would I be interested in working with him on such a project.

His email that evening had, at long last, made my dreams come true – to see the philosophy and story of FYD recorded for the benefit of future young deaf people.

I knew it was going to be a fun project working with Stuart as he is someone who knows already, through and through, the values of FYD, making him an ideal collaborative partner.

Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 10.54.32This is both a biography of Morag, and an account of FYD. Morag, do you feel as through your work on FYD is the most important achievement in your life?

Morag: As a young woman I was always searching for something – I did not quite know that that was – I was inspired by my father and his work.

As a young mother of two small hearing children, I wanted to have hearing friends in our lives and I was trying to find ways to get into the hearing world and function there effectively.

It was by chance that I met Dennis Uttley, the founder of FYD and the more I found out, I began to realise that Denis’ philosophy of deaf/hearing integration was exactly what I was looking for.

Yes, my work with FYD has occupied the largest part of my adult working life and to me the greatest achievement has been the legacy that we have today.

What do you think the biggest strength of FYD was?

Morag: FYD was unique for one thing, the partnership between deaf and hearing people – it is what Denis Uttley called the ‘friendship insurance’ – the development of life-skills and socialisation with hearing peers.

At first Denis was concerned for those Deaf children who were in schools for the Deaf who were without hearing peers as friends.

But we all soon came to the realisation that even mainstreamed young people were cut off from their hearing peers because integration was not planned out and constructed in the most efficient manner to have a positive impact on deaf children and their peers.

What do you feel FYD’s biggest legacy is ?

In the book we describe the legacy as deaf and hearing people, who had been given the opportunity to lead a many different levels in the organisation and have now used that experience to do greater things.

FYD’s former participants are today demanding that opportunities to lead be created so that deaf children of the future can benefit. Chapter 8 of the book demonstrates how this legacy fits into today’s government Youth agenda.

Is there a gap now where FYD was, in terms of what it provided Deaf people ?

Yes there is, but it might not be what people think it is. I think they would be surprised by our answers and we suggest that they read the book so that they can judge for themselves.

How can people buy the book ?

The book can be bought by sending an email to fydstory@gmail.com and asking for an order form.

What is next for you both ?

Stuart: As ever, I continue to utilise the philosophy of FYD in my work and I am currently working as a consultant for DeafKidz International who are championing the rights and wellbeing of D/deaf children and young people around the world by protecting them from abuse and neglect and giving them opportunities to develop livelihoods and access through appropriate technologies.

Morag: My husband, Hamish and I aim to travel more in the New Year while we are still mentally and physically fit! Anyone who reads the book will realise that I am not the sort of person to sit back until the right kind of support fills the gap for young deaf people aged 18-28.

We have ideas for providing something that complements and puts together the good work already out there – perhaps a national centre of excellence something for the 21st century, something that we could not offer when FYD was around. Whatever we do, it has to enable young people to be confident and ready for the world of work or further and higher education.

Both Stuart and Morag are keen to hear from readers of the book, to find out how it has inspired them to go forward and change the world for the better, because, with the right inspiration and support “You can do it!” To order it or give feedback, just email:  fydstory@gmail.com

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The Limping Chicken is the UK’s deaf blogs and news website, and is the world’s most popular deaf blog. It is edited by Deaf journalist and filmmaker Charlie Swinbourne.

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