Earlier this week, Stuart and Georgie had the pleasure of visiting Auditory Verbal UK’s London Centre in Bermondsey. The organisation work with pre-school aged deaf babies and children and their families and train more specialist therapists to help deaf children to learn to listen and speak. This is the account of their meeting this small, yet incredibly valuable charity.
Auditory Verbal UK (AVUK) are a wonderful charity based in Bermondsey on Jamaica Street. Before our meeting, we didn’t know a huge amount about the charity…after we left we spent the whole time walking back to the office discussing this niche and caring organisation.
We met with Emma, the Head of Fundraising at AVUK and someone who is clearly one of many at the charity who are completely motivated by their work. The time was spent discussing the charity, their history, what they specialise in and what they plan to do in the future. We were engrossed in the conversation from the very start.
Founded in 2003 by Jacqueline Stokes, who started this charity working with deaf children from her home in Oxfordshire, the charity now has over 20 fantastic and dedicated individuals, all working together to achieve the same goal:
‘’To ensure all deaf babies and children have the opportunity to listen and speak as equals alongside their hearing peers.’’
Their CEO, Anita Grover, who is also profoundly deaf, has led the charity through its current five year strategy, to help even more deaf children to get the support they need and to train enough specialist therapist so that every deaf child, no matter where they are born, can access auditory verbal therapy (AVT). Each charity has a goal, a mission they try to stay true to. One of the most poignant comments Emma made during our time with her, was the following:
‘We have a plan to exist until our services are no longer required. This means achieving the target we set ourselves, which is to train as many therapists as required to support the thousands of pre-school children who desperately need this early intervention, which we estimate to be 300’.
You have a sense that the charity is completely selfless. You would expect that with most charities, but AVUK have a goal to not exist in the future, which seems strange but isn’t. It means they will have conquered what they set out to do. The reason they do their jobs every day, is because everyone at the charity is motivated to achieve this target.
They run early intervention programmes to help enable pre-school age children to talk through listening. AVUK offer a 2- 3 year programme of one-on-one sessions with specialists accredited through AVUK’s own training programme. Throughout the country, there are currently only 25 professional therapists but over 7000 pre-school children who are deaf or impaired hearing. There is a clear and very real demand for more therapists in the UK to receive this training. 10 of the currently qualified therapists work for AVUK, the others are working for the NHS or independently.
The charity are working tirelessly to train more therapists. They are offering training in-house, online and are looking at evening classes for people who want to train but don’t have the time.
This charity is truly inspiring and unique. They rely solely on the generous donations from individuals, trusts and organisations, with no direct funding from the government. They are a small team with an enormous impact on so many young children and their families.
It was a pleasure to hear the accounts of people that visit. Everyone that comes to the charity walks away having a fantastic experience. Parents and Grandparents of children who are deaf walk in with a child excited to be going in, and walk away with a child with the biggest smile. It’s reported that 80% of children who graduate from AVUK have language skills equivalent to their hearing peers. The charity are so in tune with the children they work with, that they treat each subjectively and cater to the individual child and their families. The office in Bermondsey has a dedicated toy room!
Case studies of the impact AVUK has had on these children and their families are available online. One parent said this after their son received support of AVUK:
‘I’m excited to see what the future holds for him and know that he can achieve anything he wants to, and that is all thanks to the amazing support we have received for him from the beginning, and AV is a massive part of that and I will be forever grateful.’
To read more about other case studies, please read some incredible accounts from parents here.
We both walked away truly grateful for the time Emma gave us and felt completely overwhelmed by the impact of AVUK, what they do, as well as the ambitious plans for the future. I advise everyone to have a read of their website to find out more, because selfless charities driven by their users deserve all the support they can get.
To find out more, have a click on here .