My Week: Wendy Westgarth helps the parents of deaf children

The family officer for the north east at the National Deaf Children's Society recounts her week

Wendy Westgarth
Wendy Westgarth

Monday: I've just got back from a long weekend break in the Highlands of Scotland, so it takes me a few minutes to readjust to being at work. I then start on the long list of admin jobs. I'm pleased to find a message from a family that I helped to apply for funding for sign language classes - they have been successful. This is a great start to my week. I get home and head to my weekly Metafit class.

Tuesday: I'm off to meet the parents of a three-month old deaf girl who contacted our helpline. Having a deaf baby was a shock for the family. Naturally, they had lots of questions about hearing loss, methods of communication and the disability living allowance. I leave feeling that they are now better informed to make important decisions.

Wednesday: I'm up early to complete some work before heading to Durham train station. Today is the team meeting of the northern family officers in York. It's good to see my colleagues - our work involves a lot of travel, so we don't see each other regularly. We discuss complex cases, such as families who struggle with education and welfare benefits, and share tips and advice. The return train journey goes smoothly and I'm home in time to grab tea before going to my weekly Pilates class.

Thursday: I work on amendments to a little boy's statement of special educational needs. The statement is written by the local authority after an assessment to outline a child's specific needs in school. The boy's parents have concerns and have requested my support. Then it's time to catch up on some admin.

Friday: I visit the parents of a five-year-old boy who has been diagnosed as deaf. The family are still coming to terms with the news. We talk about his educational needs because his school hasn't had a deaf pupil before. Later, I take a conference call about an event that I will be hosting for families who have recently had children diagnosed as deaf. Often this is the first time parents meet other parents of deaf children. I look forward to seeing the parents there.

The NDCS supports deaf children and young people.

Wendy Westgarth is family officer for the north east at the National Deaf Children's Society

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