Councillors agreed at a meeting of the Community Planning Committee earlier this week to fund the workshop which will take place at Corrymeela in Ballycastle in January.
The aim of the workshop is to “create a safe environment where participants can explore past experiences and trauma, learn to self-regulate and manage anxiety, depression and stress”. They will also be advised of further counselling support.
The proposal has been made to the borough council by a leading Northern Ireland specialist deaf counsellor. The opportunity to participate will be advertised. The council has approved funding of £7,000.
Macedon Independent Councillor Stafford Ward proposed the committee approved the recommendation seconded by Glengormley Alliance Alderman Julian McGrath. Ald McGrath said: “This is another excellent proposal for people who could easily slip through the net.”
In April 2021, Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council voted unanimously to commit to being a “deaf-friendly” council. This means the local authority has committed to providing signing on social media videos to highlight important events and announcements. A meeting of the borough council was signed partially for the first time by British Sign Language and Irish Sign Language interpreters.
The motion was proposed by DUP Councillor Mark Cooper BEM, now mayor, and seconded by Threemilewater Alliance Councillor Julie Gilmore.
Commenting on the decision at the time, British Deaf Association Northern Ireland said online: “The approval of this motion will mean improved services for our deaf community including signing on social media videos to highlight important events and notices, introduction of sign language courses for staff, appointing a ‘deaf champion’ and signing up to BDA’s British Sign Language/Irish Sign Language Charter.”
In September 2021, Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council signed up to the British/Irish Sign Language Charter, committing to promote better access to public services for deaf communities.
The BSL/ISL Charter is designed to empower local deaf communities and resolve barriers between service providers and deaf people while increasing awareness of deaf issues.
By signing the Charter, the local authority “pledges to consult formally and informally with the local deaf community on a regular basis, ensure access for deaf people to the council’s information and services and support deaf children and families in the borough to live a more fulfilled life”.
The RNID charity says that 32,000 people in Northern Ireland are deaf, have hearing loss or tinnitus.
Separately at this week’s committee meeting, councillors were told 83 community groups in Antrim and Newtownabbey have been successful in funding applications for Christmas celebrations. The total amount recommended for funding is £40,525. Two applications were unsuccessful.
The Senior Citizens’ Christmas Festivity Fund was established by the local authority in 2019 to provide financial assistance to seniors’ groups organising Christmas dinners and other social events in the borough.
Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter