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Talking Hands helps Abigail express herself

At birth little Abigail was diagnosed with a rare condition that causes deafness and can also affect her heart and central nervous system. This kick-started a host of fears for her family including worries about how she would communicate with them.

But thanks to a project that received a grant from the Big Lottery Fund yesterday, Abigail is now brimming with confidence and looking forward to making new friends.

Talking Hands Deaf Children based in Swansea, receives £4,940 under the latest round of the Big Lottery Fund’s Awards for All small-grants programme. They are one of 79 community projects across Wales receiving a share of £317,715. (Full project descriptions can be foundhere).

Abigail Jones from Swansea is 11 years old and was born with Charge Syndrome, a genetic condition that can affect the central nervous system and heart, but can also cause deafness. Abigail was fitted with a hearing aid at just six months old and at age 5 she started learning British Sign Language when she started attending the group.

Amelia Lewis, Abigail’s mother, said: “Abi failed her hearing test when she was a baby and was fitted with her first hearing aids at the age of six months and when she was 5 she had a cochlear implant, however because of other medical issues it has not been as successful as we had hoped but we need not have been afraid as Abi has taken to British Sign Language like a duck to water.

“We were put in contact with Talking Hands where we met other deaf children, adults and parents, and since being involved in Talking Hands Abi has improved leaps and bounds with her signing and also her confidence. She’s going to secondary school in September and is really looking forward to meeting and making new friends.

"I wouldn't know what we would do without the support and encouragement that we get from everyone at the group! As a parent I think that Talking Hands receiving this funding is fantastic news, the staff are always looking for things to challenge and encourage the young people and their experience, whatever they do I am sure all will enjoy."

Chair of the Talking Hands Deaf Children, Helen Robbins-Talbot, said: "The funding will help the young people explore their world through media. This is a perfect project for deaf young people as it is more hands on, through media be it film, art, poetry or story telling they can express themselves in their own way."

(Read more about Talking Hands and of 7 year-old Jack who is autistic and was diagnosed with progressive hearing loss on our Big Blog.)Goes to different website

In Powys, British Lung Foundation will use £3,798 to deliver three self-management days across Powys for people with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease which will consist of interactive talks and practical workshops from expert speakers.

In Cardiff, Genetic Alliance UK Ltd will use £2,112 to work closely with patients and families affected by rare genetic conditions from across Wales to help them to establish peer support networks and patient groups. Also in Cardiff, Just a Ball Game? will use £4,800 to raise awareness of homophobic bullying, working with the LGBT community to increase confidence in people that have been affected by bullying.

In Carmarthenshire, Amman Valley Holistic Cancer Support in Ammanford will use £4,990 to employ a sessional worker to organise and facilitate the group’s sessions, and West Wales Action for Mental Health in Carmarthen will use £5,000 to run mental health training sessions and workshops covering Self Management and Recovery for service users, carers and community members across Carmarthenshire.

Elsewhere, in Conwy The Jazz Warriors will use £4,400 to work with vulnerable people in the area to run improvisation workshops and create a choir that will give people confidence through the medium of music.

Gareth Williams, Awards for All Programme Manager for the Big Lottery Fund in Wales, said: “Awards for All is having a positive impact throughout Wales.

“Money is helping to establish groups, societies and clubs, promoting learning, increasing volunteering opportunities and helping to build stronger communities.”

Available in English and Welsh, application forms are available to download to different website or by phone on 0300 123 0735.

Further Information:

Alexander Davies - Big Lottery Fund Press Office: 029 2067 8236
Public Enquiries Line: 0300 123 0735                          
Textphone: 0845 6021 659
Full details of the Big Lottery Fund programmes and grant awards are available at:
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Notes to Editors:

  • The Big Lottery Fund supports the aspirations of people who want to make life better for their communities across the UK. We are responsible for giving out 40% of the money raised by the National Lottery and invest over £650 million a year in projects big and small in health, education, environment and charitable purposes. 
  • Since June 2004 we have awarded over £6.5billion to projects that make a difference to people and communities in need, from early years intervention to commemorative travel funding for World War Two veterans.
  • Since the National Lottery began in 1994, £34 billion has been raised and more than 450,000 grants awarded.


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