Our LinkUps bring together a group of around 15 people to explore the challenges of living with hearing loss, to share solutions, and to learn more about the strategies and equipment that can help make life a little bit easier. There is no fixed agenda.
The group leaders and participants work together in the early part of the course to agree what topics or issues should be addressed. There are many common topics that tend to occur quite frequently, but there is also an opportunity for unusual topics to be raised and discussed.
Who will benefit from attending a LinkUp?
These will be of interest to anyone whose life has been affected by hearing loss. This includes anyone whose hearing has deteriorated to the point where it is causing them difficulties. It also includes relatives, partners or friends of someone with hearing loss, as we know that hearing loss in the family affects all family members and everyone needs support to find a new way forward.
The programme offers everyone the opportunity to explore their own challenges, and also to understand better each other’s perspective. It is of benefit for those with recent hearing loss; but also for those who have lived with hearing loss for many years or decades.
How is the LinkUp managed?
It is led by two people with personal experience of hearing loss in their own lives. One will have a personal hearing loss themselves and so will have practical experience of managing the daily challenges that brings; the other will have a personal understanding of the frustrations hearing loss brings to the family or to other close relationships. Both will be experienced group facilitators, and their role is to help the members of the group agree on the topics they wish to discuss.
In addition to this, there will be two or three volunteers who all have personal experience of hearing loss in one way or another. Their role is to make sure the practical arrangements run smoothly, and to share their own personal experiences and the solutions they have found for the problems they have encountered.
How long does a LinkUp last?
Most LinkUps are run over a weekend to make sure those with employment commitments can access them. Participants normally arrive on a Friday evening to begin to get to know each other. Formal sessions begin on Saturday morning and run throughout the day, concluding with a shared meal in the evening. Work continues Sunday morning, and will finish just after lunchtime to allow for return travel.
How does communication work?
During group sessions, we provide an excellent working loop and speech to text support (whereby everything that is said is typed in real-time and displayed on a screen) so that everyone can follow everything.
During the break times, we use the opportunity to practise some of the communication strategies that will have been discussed during the sessions. The most important thing to remember is that everyone is in the same boat, so everyone understands and looks out for each other.
Many participants arrive feeling deeply anxious that they will be left out of the conversation, just like the situation in their everyday life. It doesn’t take long before they realise that this is one place where good communication is practised, and all are included.
How much does it cost?
Currently, we make no charge for participating in a LinkUp and we cover the costs of accommodation, meals and refreshments from arrival to departure. We do not normally cover the cost of transport to and from the LinkUp, but if this would prevent someone from attending who really needs this help we will always consider options.