Post by Brogan Young, University of Stirling student who is on placement with Ideas for Ears
On Wednesday the 6th of January, a joint consultation meeting took place at the Albert Halls in Stirling, central Scotland. The event was concerning the Health and Social Partnership Plan 2019-2022 for the Stirling and Forth Valley area. Members of Ideas for Ears, including myself, were present along with several other groups: Our Connected Neighbourhoods, Alzheimer Scotland, Artlink Central and the local Third Sector Interface.
The consultation was designed to inform about the Health & Social Care Partnership and also to gather important feedback. Beyond this, it was an important opportunity to connect organisations and individuals interested in hearing access and what this means for people with hearing loss, hearing sensitivity and other hearing conditions.
Although the café in the Albert Halls was warm and comfortable, it also highlighted the challenges that can be created around hearing access. The venue had been selected at short notice to take advantage of the opportunity to run it on the back of a meeting already taking place that had been organised by Alzheimer Scotland.
Attendees had been notified that there were likely to be hearing access challenges as the venue was a café rather than a designated meeting room. Efforts were made to overcome the issues through additional written information to reduce the need to hear group announcements and explanations.
Nonetheless, for some attendees the hearing challenges were substantial, mostly caused by the noise levels in the venue. This was exacerbated by rapid changes in topic, people not speaking loudly or clearly enough, and it not always being possible to use lipreading to assist.
However, despite these difficulties, attendees said they had not been put off attending another such event, perhaps because of the nature of the event and the spirit with which it was organised. The café staff also seemed very accommodating.
Unfortunately, I was not able to stay for the full meeting but I did appreciate the value of the consultation. The varied turnout seemed to allow for a great level of communication and interaction between groups, strengthening the links in the community.
For me, personally, I found the experience to be very informative. Although there was definitely a feeling of being thrown in at the deep end, sometimes it is best to try and get fully involved at the start with talking and meeting with people.
I was lucky to have met and spoken with as many people as I did, who were very helpful in explaining their experiences and reasons for being at the meeting. I very much look forward to meeting everyone again if the opportunity arises.