Centre gets loop cash boost

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Polegate Community Centre should be wired for sound later this year thanks to a £1,000 grant from the town council.

The community centre in Windsor Way was last week presented with a cheque to go towards installing a new hearing loop system.

Councillor Joe O’Riordan, who is a hearing aid user himself, presented the money to Jim Dobell, president of the Polegate Community Association.

Mr Dobell said that they had wanted to install a loop system for sometime, but other more urgent repair work had always delayed the project.

The community association still has to find another £500 to completely finance the system, but it is hoped this will be met soon so the hearing loop system can be installed this year.

Jim Dobell, said: “The PCC is very grateful to the council for the donation, thereby allowing the facility to be installed, which will make a huge difference to those with a hearing impairment disability.”

For Joe O’Riordan, he was delighted to be making the presentation.

He has been using a hearing aid for eight years now, and he believes the loop system will make a huge difference to users at the community centre.

Joe said, “The community centre is used by a drama group and so they will benefit enormously from the system. And the centre is well used by many other groups.

“The community centre has been around since about 1969 and it is a very popular facility.

“I am sure they will raise the rest of the money very quickly.”

It was eight years ago when Joe woke up one morning deaf in one ear and that hearing has never returned.

The key to having a hearing disability is acceptance, he said. “When it first happened to me it meant I had to make enormous changes to my life.

“Suddenly straightforward things like conversations became difficult.

“You have to learn very quickly how to deal with it.

“For example, when I go to a council meeting I always get there quite early to grab a seat, and I always sit to the right of the speaker because my good ear is my left.

“Most of the time I get by. I think there is a lot of ignorance about deafness and people make assumptions. I’ve probably done so myself.

“So you might be in a supermarket and say “excuse me” to someone who is in your way, they totally ignore you and you think they are being rude.

“You hadn’t considered they might be hard of hearing and had not heard you.”

Joe, 72, is a firm advocate of hearing loops and supporting the Let’s Loop Eastbourne campaign which is being pioneered by the charity Hearing Link and supported by the Eastbourne Herald.

He said that those loops which had been set up were working well, but there could be more.

“There are never enough hearing loops in business and public places,” added Joe.

“I don’t know what is the answer is, but hearing loops make a huge difference to people like myself.”