ECL collaborates on campaign to empower people with sensory loss

The Essex Sensory Community (ESC) has launched a new campaign as part of Essex Sensory Awareness Week (July 11-15) to empower people across the region with sight, hearing or dual sensory loss to seek help and support from local services.

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A head shot photo of Leah Jackman.
Leah Jackman from Braintree received life-changing support for her dual sensory loss from Essex Sensory Community.

‘This Community Can’ has been launched by the Essex Sensory Community, a partnership of seven charities and organisations working together to provide easy access to a range of free support, advice, and assistive equipment.

The campaign comes at a time of heightened awareness and portrayal of sensory loss in society and the media, with model Tasha Ghouri appearing as the first ever deaf contestant on the current series of Love Island. Deaf actress Rose Ayling-Ellis has also raised the profile of the deaf community after winning Strictly Come Dancing last series, and CODA became the first film with a predominantly deaf cast to win the Academy Award for Best Picture at the 2021 Oscars.

The Essex Sensory Community (ESC) is a collaboration between ECL, who provide comprehensive care services to thousands across Essex, and six partner organisations: BASIS (Blind and Sight Impaired Society), Deafblind UK, Essex Sight, Hearing Help Essex, RAD (Royal Association for Deaf People), and Support 4 Sight. Their collective mission is to elevate Essex as a sensory-friendly place where individuals with sensory impairments are empowered to live their lives to the full.

Leah Jackman, aged 38 from Braintree, is hard of hearing and completely lost her sight in 2018 due to diabetic retinopathy. ECL and the ESC partners arranged for handrails and portable doorbell receivers to be fitted in Leah’s house to help her navigate safely and hear the doorbell around her home and showed her how to use a Penfriend labeller to identify labelled products. The team also provided 1-2-1 cane training to help Leah navigate outside, enabling her to walk her daughter home from school once again.

Once I completely lost my sight, I was too anxious to go outside or open the door. Even when collecting the post I’d be a shaking mess. A social worker put me in touch with ECL Sensory Service and everything changed.

I would definitely recommend ECL and especially Support 4 Sight for all that they did in helping me get my confidence back. You think that your world has ended…you think, that’s it – how am I going to do all these things that I used to do? I have since undertaken further cane training with them, and even to this day, years after my initial training, they still check in with me. It’s a wonderful service that I’d recommend to anyone.

Leah Jackman

The organisations within ESC collaborate to deliver a wide range of services including support groups, rehabilitation services and loan of technology and equipment to assist with sensory loss. With one point of contact that reaches this wide network of partners, self-referral or referring a friend or family member is a smooth, streamlined process.

Lindsey Barrell, Sensory Support Officer at Deafblind UK, said: “When people have got a sensory impairment, the world tends to shrink. Because they are no longer able to get out and about, they don’t have access to the kind of activities they used to. Our job is to find the activities and the support network they need to open their world up again.”

By working together as Essex Sensory Community, we can support each other and make sure that each individual gets the right support at the right time. We have streamlined referral processes between our organisations which makes it easy for service users to get the help they need, whether they’re experiencing a visual or auditory sensory impairment.

The purpose of This Community Can is to enable more people to access our services, and to empower those living with sensory loss in Essex to live their lives to the fullest with increased independence. We’re reaching out to families, GPs, and professionals working with the public, and Essex Sensory Awareness Week is the perfect time to raise awareness.

If you know someone who has a sensory impairment and you think they could do with a bit of support or advice, then they can contact us.

Faye Harburt, Head of ECL Sensory Service

Watch the full campaign video

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