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Jason Hixon tells us about the new Leeds Deaf centre, which is set to open later this year

It’s been a difficult few years for the Deaf community in Leeds, after the decision was taken (in controversial circumstances) to sell the old building (below), which then took six years to sell, leaving the community without a base in the meantime.

Our new home, on St Marys Street
Image of Ripon House, Soon to be re-named to something a little more appropriate

This Facebook video (below) posted at the end of February by Jason Hixon, Chairman of Leeds Deaf Social Club, announced that the new building had been found and its location to the local Deaf community (if it doesn’t appear below, see it directly by clicking here):

https://www.facebook.com/groups/168872696491519/permalink/1480885351956907/

Work is now ongoing to prepare for the launch of the new Deaf and Blind centre. Jason, who is also a Trustee of Leeds Society for the Deaf and Blind People, answered some of our questions:

When is the new centre opening?

It’s difficult to say at the moment. We hope to open before the New Year. We were advertising a Director’s job to run the Centre with aims listed by Board of Trustees.

We are getting quotes from contractors to change the interior of the extension into one social/ function room with a Bar/Cafe in it. If the Board of Trustee approve of the cost and design of the new social/function room, we could start in the late summer/early autumn.

How do you feel about it? After so long?

I felt so relieved that we found and bought a perfect place so soon after we got our money from the sale of the old Centenary House, after years of red tape, legal issues and planning issues. When I read your question, the theme song for the sitcom Cheers came into my mind: “Sometimes you want to go,  where everybody knows your name”.

It’s exactly how I will feel when I come in to open up the Club as a Trustee/ Bar staff, seeing all the members and friends drop in during the club hours. It’s my true world where I can be myself again having been in a ‘non-deafie’ working environment. At peace with myself again. The breeze of our sign languages on my face. Soothing to my eyes from the strain of lipreading at my day job.

What are the challenges ahead?

The first priority is to hire a Director to run the centre, with tasks to take us to the future. The next priority is to open a club again in the extension part of the building.

To generate incomes from rent, partnerships, and donations. To be more energy sufficiency by means of rain falls and solar panels, thus saving money on overheads.

There will also be changes to our work ethics and improve better communications for Deaf and Blind by adding video calls/apps. We do have other aims and projects to achieve which will be publicised later on.

You can read Limping chicken’s article featuring our own Jason Hixon – CLICK HERE