Thursday, March 21st, 2019
ORGANISATIONS from Masons Yorkshire Gin to a town council and a beauty salon are embracing a project to learn Makaton sign language – to ensure they can provide a warm welcome to people with communication difficulties.
Staff from more than 40 businesses in Bedale hope to become the UK’s second Makaton Friendly town this year. They are working towards achieving the status ahead of the Tour de Yorkshire arriving in May. By doing so, they hope visitors with speech or language impairments will feel fully included in the celebrations when the town hosts the finish point for the men and women’s races on Friday, May 3.
The communication method is based on British Sign Language and involves using signs and symbols with speech to help adults and children with learning or speech difficulties to communicate. Towns can earn Makaton Friendly status with the Makaton charity if enough organisations make their services accessible to people using the form of sign language.
Businesses and organisations have so far supported the campaign by taking part in signing workshops which have been held at Bedale’s police station, fire station, the Town Hall, St Gregory’s Church, the Big Sheep Little Cow farm attraction, Chantry Hall and the Old Black Swan pub.
Karen Pickles, Deputy Head of Mowbray School is a regional Makaton Tutor who has led many of the workshops. She said: “The way people in the town have embraced this is fantastic. About 40 organisations have so far taken part in the initiative, which is way beyond our expectations. We’ve been taken aback by people’s enthusiasm.
“They’ve also come from a wide range of different organisations; we’ve had vets, building society staff, representatives from pre-school groups and shop staff.”
Organisations taking part include; Masons Yorkshire Gin, Bedale Library, Big Sheep Little Cow, Bedale Community Bakery, Yorkshire Ambulance Service, the Dales Care Centre, Bedale Church of England Primary School, Bedale and District Methodist Church, St Gregory’s CE Church, Bedale Pet Shop, Glebe House Surgery, Bedale Beauty Salon, Headquarters Hair salon, BrandBedale members and Bedale Town Council.
The 90 minute introductory sessions teach frequently used words and phrases, such as “are you ok?” or “would you like a drink?” as well as vocabulary which is particular to participants’ line of work or business. So far this has included teaching a pet food store the different signs for animals and pet food and words an estate agent might be asked.
“The Tour de Yorkshire brings all our communities together to leave a lasting legacy on many fronts”, said County Councillor Carl Les, North Yorkshire’s Leader. “Initiatives like this which embrace the inclusive spirit of the event are great for local residents, businesses and future generations. As well as a world-class race which helps to raise the profile of our beautiful county with all the economic and cultural benefits that brings, the TdY is also about celebrating who we are and what we can do for each other.”
The training also means children from Mowbray special school who use Makaton will be able to communicate more effectively with people locally and use shops and services in Bedale more independently.
Karen added: “It’s fabulous when our pupils who use Makaton to support their communication skills, go into Bedale and visit a café or a shop and people can sign in order to communicate.
“On a recent visit to Bedale, a group from Mowbray School who use Makaton sign language were greeted by a lady who came out of the hairdresser to sign “good morning” and asked if we signed. On another occasion a member of staff from Mowbray School who uses Makaton with her students was in the pet shop and signed to ask for dog food and the member of staff was able to sign back.
“It’s good fun to learn and it’s wonderful for our Makaton users to enjoy a different experience in Bedale because people are speaking their language.”
Brand Bedale business group have also been heavily involved in promoting Bedale as a Makaton-friendly town. Donna Stothard, owner of Bedale Beauty and chair of the group said: “What a great connection between pupils and staff from Mowbray and local businesses, who have grasped this idea to become an inclusive town.
“Within days of posting these training dates on Brand Bedale’s Facebook page we had more than 10,000 views. Karen Pickles was amazing at presenting the 90 minute sessions. She made it fun and memorable, so we all left feeling confident at using our new skill.”
Councillors and staff with Bedale Town Council have all taken part in the training.
Town council’s clerk, Nick Reed, said they were planning to develop a Makaton guide for organisations in the town containing phrases which can be used during the Tour de Yorkshire.
“When the Tour de Yorkshire arrives, many – if not most – retail outlets and community organisations will be able to communicate about 30 basic signs, along with our stewards in the town,” he said.
“Just being able to say “hello” or “thank you” makes a huge difference to children and adults with communication difficulties. I don’t think we had envisaged the absolute enthusiasm with which the whole town has taken this up.”
Wednesday, March 6th, 2019
A SPECIAL school has been presented with a special award for the care and attention it gives pupils, staff and parents.
Mowbray School in Bedale has been given the prestigious Optimus Well-Being Award after being singled out for its collaborative, child focused and open approach.
It’s presented through the National Children’s Bureau and focusses on effective practice in promoting the emotional wellbeing and mental health of pupils staff and parents.
The award states: “The Ethos of the school is one which binds people together and can be seen demonstrated across all areas. In terms of promoting and protecting emotional wellbeing and good mental health the intervention options, the systematic use of assessment and the constant upgrading of staff skills is a powerful example of good practice.
“Staff are clearly strong advocates of the school and again there is an open and forward looking approach to their wellbeing.
“Touring the school as well as from conversations a major and consistent factor is the school’s approach to the needs of students. There are many and multiple examples of the belief in what can be possible for students, the importance in placing their needs at the centre of decisions and the willingness to be innovative for constant improvement.
“The heavy investment in Emotional First Aid combined with the use of animals on the School Farm to widen the curriculum and promote emotional wellbeing and resilience, are a sign of how forward thinking and committed all at this school are.”
Mowbray has 215 pupils from all over the northern part of North Yorkshire, who have a range of learning difficulties. The school has also just received another major boost after being recognised as an Emotional Coaching School and an Attachment Aware School in recognition of staff training and practice.
Deputy Head Karen Pickles said: “The staff at Mowbray School work very hard to support pupils, parents and each other, and it is fabulous that their efforts have been recognised and endorsed by external agencies, both local and national.
“The ‘Change Team’consisting of parents, School Council members and staff worked with enthusiasm and determination to ensure that the standards required in order to achieve the Awards we have been presented with were met at the very highest level.”