Supporting Deaf People In East Suffolk

Supported by East Suffolk Council’s Hidden Needs Grant Programme, the Royal Association for Deaf people (RAD) has launched Deaf Friends Suffolk which aims to reduce social isolation and improve mental wellbeing in deaf people aged over 55 years old.

Deaf Friends Suffolk offers befriending services, workshops, talks and social activities, both remotely and in person in line with current restrictions. Following a successful application to the Council’s Hidden Needs Programme, the Royal Association for Deaf people were awarded £6,733.44 to support the project.

The Hidden Needs Programme provides funding for local community groups and voluntary organisations that are delivering projects which can help reduce social isolation and loneliness.

Cllr Letitia Smith, East Suffolk’s cabinet member for Communities, Leisure and Tourism, said: “The pandemic has caused additional challenges for those who were already struggling with social isolation and loneliness. Originally launched in 2018 to support isolated older people and families with limited resources, our Hidden Needs Programme was relaunched in response to Covid-19 to help fund projects, such as Deaf Friends Suffolk, which supports older people who are particularly vulnerable at this time. We are delighted to have been able to support their vital work.”

Julie Ratcliffe, Director of Operations for the Royal Association for Deaf people said: “We are delighted to be able to launch this new scheme in East Suffolk to support deaf people who may be feeling isolated and vulnerable. As well as suggestions about the types of activities we could run, we are also looking for befriending volunteers to support deaf people and we would ask anyone who would like to get involved in the project to get in touch.”

The Royal Association for Deaf people would like to hear from local residents about what workshops and activities would be beneficial and help deaf people connect with others in the community. To submit comments and for more details about Deaf Friends Suffolk, please email

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