Care Network and East Lancashire Deaf Society East Lancashire Deaf Society (ELDS) have been working for over 140 years supporting deaf and hard of hearing people. At the heart of all their work is inclusion, cohesion and the full participation of deaf people in society. ELDS provides a wide range of services in the community. They have a nursery, restaurant, domiciliary care agency, building and home maintenance team, office spaces and more. The opportunities they create for deaf people are innovative and unique. Care Network was awarded Home Improvement Agencies (HIA’s) status in April 2016, the organisation is dedicated to helping people with disabilities, and vulnerable people to live in safety and with dignity at home and in their community. Care Network is always looking for ways to develop the offers available to people living in Blackburn with Darwen in partnerships with businesses, charities and the local authority. Earlier this year Care Network wanted to further develop the relationship with ELDS to try to replicate the handy person offer many residents were missing since the council’s DASH scheme came to an end. Care Network was keen to work alongside ELDS’s apprenticeship scheme and value’s the work of ELDS in recruiting young, deaf people who have otherwise been unable to get into employment or mainstream training. Doug Alker, Chief Executive of ELDS believes that when someone from the deaf community provides a quality service to someone from the hearing community, this real life interaction is one of the best routes into understanding and acceptance, Doug explains “We want people to know that deaf people are as good as hearing people. This could be the first experience of a deaf person somebody has had and we want the interaction with our apprentice to be a good and positive one. We make sure apprentices understand good customer relations, a skill in itself , which we train our staff with. Our work is about changing perceptions” Care Network is receiving great feedback about East Lancashire Deaf Society. One customer, in her early 40s who lives with bipolar said “They came to put some shelves up in the dining room. When I contacted Care Network and they explained that it would be a deaf handy person coming, I thought it was going to be difficult, I was a little apprehensive, but when they came we communicated fine through nodding and writing things down. And they’ve done a really great job. I’ll be contacting Care Network again to use the ELDS handyperson service.” This partnership provides real life, ordinary experiences to break down barriers and support cohesion. Doug adds “I want the people who use our services saying ‘Such lovely deaf people doing such good jobs’. Deaf people are fed up of staying at home, we want to do something, ELDS and Care Network are giving them that chance.” For more information about this new offer for the borough contact Care Network’s Safe Trader scheme on 01254 507255.