The St Wilfrid’s Community Links project, funded by The National Lottery Community Fund, aims to create a vibrant network of organisations and community groups across our catchment area. These groups might provide services and activities that may be of interest to our patients and families. It also provides the hospice with the chance to raise awareness of our services, upcoming fundraising events and volunteering opportunities.

One organisation that has become a Community Link is East Sussex Hearing (formerly known as East Sussex Hearing Resource Centre). We recently spoke to David Rowan, CEO of the charity, and Glynwen Chetcuti, Office Manager, to find out more about ESH and why they became a Community Link.

Helping to improve the quality of life for people with sensory loss

The small, independent charity, which has been running for over 20 years, helps to improve the quality of life for people with sensory loss of deafness or deafblindness and to reduce loneliness and isolation within the county. They offer drop-in support* at their centre in Chantry House on Upperton Road in Eastbourne and also an outreach service across the whole of East Sussex.

‘We offer a range of services including helping people in their homes to hear the TV, the telephone, the fire alarm, or the doorbell, for example. We also provide hearing aid maintenance on behalf of the Audiology departments (mainly at Park Practice and Conquest hospital), as well as sign language and lip reading classes and deaf awareness training,’ David told us.

‘We deal with around 9,500 to 10,000 enquiries a year and we’re a small team so we are always busy.’

‘We like to think that the pandemic hasn’t affected our services.’

When the country first went into lockdown, the charity was busier than ever, even when they weren’t originally allowed to visit people’s homes.

‘At the moment, because a lot of Audiology departments haven’t been open to the public unless it’s an urgent problem, we’ve had a lot of new clients coming to see us,’ Glynwen told us. ‘We wear visors in the office and keep our distance to make it easier for lip reading, but we do wear masks if we need to come close to people. We’ve even decorated our visors to make them seem friendlier!

‘We were allowed to visit clients’ homes from about mid-May because we are key workers providing a hearing loss service on behalf of East Sussex County Council. Because many people are at home much more now, everything that is linked with the home has become more important to them.

‘We like to think that the pandemic hasn’t affected our services as much as we feared it may. We have ensured that there’s always someone to answer calls and emails during our opening hours.’

The charity also moved premises during lockdown, from 8 St Leonards Road, where they had been since 2005, to 22 Upperton Road. The new centre is more easily accessible as they are on the ground floor and has more space to work safely. ‘It’s fantastic,’ said Glynwen.  

Becoming a Community Link

ESH became a Community Link in Spring this year after our Community Engagement Coordinator, Lucy Cheshire reached out to them.

‘It’s such a good initiative,’ Glynwen said. ‘Anything which joins up other organisations and increases awareness of what is available is great, especially in a town of this size.

‘Once we have settled down here and organised ourselves we are excited to get more involved and liaise with the other organisations.’

Lucy said: ‘It’s great to have East Sussex Hearing become part of our Community Links project and we look forward to continuing to learn more about the services they provide at their new centre and in the wider community.’

If your group or organisation would be interested in finding out more about the Community Links project please contact Lucy Cheshire at [email protected]. You can also visit the Community Links page on our website.

Please note: St Wilfrid’s Hospice (Eastbourne) Ltd is keen to promote community links with other organisations and community groups and whilst the links on this page will take you to their respective websites, St Wilfrid’s Hospice (Eastbourne) Ltd is not responsible for the content of their websites or the practices of these groups/organisations. All other websites should have their own privacy notice/policy, and you are advised to refer to those accordingly.

* Since this interview took place, ESH have had to temporarily close their centre due to the latest national lockdown. They are still offering advice over the telephone or via Zoom and can send NHS provided hearing aid batteries in the post.