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Deaf entrepreneurs get a helping hand

Deaf entrepreneurs given a helping hand in the job market by GDA
 
Article from The Citizen, published Wednesday 12 November 2014. To read the article online please click here

Deaf entrepreneurs are being given a helping hand to get their businesses
recognised and to convince companies they are employable in a pioneering project.

The Gloucestershire Deaf Association (GDA) has launched Mutton Jeffrey, a project which looks to break the stigma employers often hold on employing or working with deaf people.

They are attempting to do this by acting as a mediator between clients and deaf entrepreneurs, using new technology to communicate in sign language on behalf of customers and handling any issues that might arise during the work.

One beneficiary has been Bishop’s Cleeve resident Garrie Martin, 25, who has been pot washing at Pizza Hut for the last nine-and-a-half years but wants to follow his passion as a freelance photographer.

He is one of many helped to create a business case explaining what he does, his prices, his skills and how best to communicate with him.

He has already received plenty of interest and admits people have been put off employing him in the past. “I want to support this project because it has helped me and hopefully it will provide more work in the future ” he said.

After many years working in laundry and ironing, 46-year-old Sam Bryan from Hempsted is looking to start her own business.

“I decided to become freelance but it is difficult to find work because I am deaf,” she said.

“I am really happy with the support from GDA, it has made me more confident.”

Others include Donna-Marie Ray who is starting her own florist business and 24-year-old Amanda True who offers a range of services including baby signing and baking as well as being a make-up artist and providing art workshops.

GDA’s Reg Cobb said the idea was to alleviate companies’ concerns to hiring or working with deaf people, who he said often cited ‘health and safety’ reasons for not hiring.

“If our members have problems we can link them with companies or clients, and help solve the communication barrier,” he said.

“Trying to get deaf people into employment can be a struggle because of the communication barrier and not many appreciate that.

“These people have the talent but are being held back.”

GDA chief executive Jenny Hopkins said: “We recognise that for deaf entrepreneurs to shine, we need to do more than simply get on our soapbox about equality.

“We are enormously proud of what we are achieving around deaf employment in Gloucestershire and, with Mutton Jeffrey, we believe we are launching a scheme that could be duplicated by other deaf charities for sign language users elsewhere around the country.

“Deaf people want to succeed. We have found a way to make that happen.”

GDA is grateful to the Dept of Work and Pensions for a DPULO Facilitation Fund grant, awarded in 2013 for the charity to undertake a two-year Deaf employment project. It has enabled us to help a number of Gloucestershire Deaf job-seekers into successful employment, to support others already in employment, and to help four Deaf entrepreneurs to set up their own businesses within a GDA communications supported environment.

To find out more about the project and what other deaf entrepreneurs are offering in Gloucestershire, call 01452 372999 or email mutton.jeffrey@glosdeaf.uk

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