DESPERATELY needed lip-reading classes are under threat due to lack of funding.
New sponsors and supporters are now being asked to come forward to help raise £5,000 to save two classes run at St Thomas’s House in Salisbury.
The Seeing Voices groups are run by qualified lip-reading teachers and give deaf and hearing impaired adults the chance to learn important lip-reading skills.
But they face an uncertain future as the existing sponsorship arrangement comes to an end The weekly classes are designed to teach eight people at a time but are hugely oversubscribed, with about 30 people on the waiting list.
Those who attend are aged between 20 and 90 and come from Salisbury and surrounding villages.
At the classes they learn communication strategies, how to cope with background noise, language recognition and lip-reading techniques to help them regain their confidence.
Organisers of the classes say deafness is an isolating disability, which can lead to people giving up work, struggling with everyday tasks and cutting back on their social lives because communication becomes too difficult.
Many people who join the group have low self-esteem but regular attendance at the classes helps them to rebuild their lives.
“Lip-reading classes have given me my life back, renewed my hope and the chance of a meaningful future, and drawn me back from the edge of despair,” said one member of the group.
Salisbury city councillor Mark Timbrell is helping the group to apply for grants to save the service and is also appealing to local companies, organisations and individuals to offer their support.
“These classes offer an important service and to see them end would be devastating for members of the class,” he said.
“Profound deafness can strike people of any age and cause people to become isolated and depressed as they feel that they can’t function in the world as well as they used to.
“This cause may not be the most well-known or the most fashionable out there but it really serves a life enhancing purpose.
“I urge anyone who is able to donate to do so and if there are any companies or individuals who feel they may be able to sponsor the class then please get in touch.”
Anyone who can help can email Cllr Trimbell at firstname.lastname@example.org.