Hitchin foster carers of deaf children commended for their work

FOSTER carers who look after deaf children have been learning how to communicate with their young charges, thanks to the Comet’s Charity of the Year.

Phoenix Group, a charity which works with young deaf children and their families, delivered a course in deaf awareness to carers at the Hitchin-based Swan Fostering agency.

The course, which was held over six months, included training in sign language, with the carers gaining a new appreciation of the difficulties encountered by deaf and hearing-impaired children.

Baljinder Haer, director of Swan Fostering, said: “We definitely want Phoenix back again next year to work with another group of carers. The course has been fabulous – thank you.”

One deaf youngster whose foster carer was on the course added: “It’s great my foster carers can sign. Now they can help me learn and they understand what I’m saying.”

The course was completed last month, with the carers receiving certificates for their hard work.

One of those people was Comet Community Awards winner Sally Churms, who won Carer of the Year this year.

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Director of Phoenix, Jane Shann, said: “Fostering children is noble and a socially-valuable occupation, and sometimes an extremely taxing one, practically and emotionally, so imagine the extra demands when the child in question is deaf.

“With patience and practice these difficulties are surmountable – and by the end of the course our carers were able to hold conversations with deaf young people through sign language, and to support those of their colleagues who are fostering a deaf child.”

She added: “Of course, our work doesn’t stop with Swan. If your organisation would benefit from a specially tailored Phoenix course, just get in touch. It’s what we’re here for.”

For more information on courses, email info@phoenixgroup.org.uk