Monday, 25 August 2008

Social Inclusion extra

Before the programme
When in Southampton, I volunteered for Hampshire Deaf Association. Deaf people can be excluded from the rest of society because of problems in communicating. General society makes the assumption that its population can hear, so information tends to be portrayed with this in mind. However, 1 in 7 people living in the UK have at least some degree of hear loss. This has an impact in all walks of life, including school, university, work and in service provision. HDA aims to include deaf and hard of hearing people in the general society using a variety of services, including:
  • Interpreting services,
  • Raising awareness of businesses and employers,
  • Activities for hearing children of deaf parents and/or deaf children of deaf/hearing parents,
  • Services for students - interpretation, notetaking, lipspeaking
  • Training in BSL.
Ribbons Centre & THT
Both of these charities work with people living with HIV and AIDS. In the UK, the prognosis for people living with HIV is good, as thanks to anti retro virals and the accessibility of a good diet, people are now likely to be able live reasonably healthily. However, there are still problems for people living with HIV. People have to live with the stigma the general population has about HIV postive people, both to do with the assumed ways they contracted it and what they can do. THT is campaigning to try and quell this stigma, and the bring about change. The Ribbons Centre in Southampton and THT nationally also provide services for HIV positive people, including counselling and advocacy.

During the programme
Team 69
We are a team of 9 UK and 9 Syrian volunteers. We come from a variety of different backgrounds. Our main languages are Arabic and English. We all have different communication styles. For decisions to be made to include everyone, these 3 things all have to be taken into account. When we're making decisions all of the discussion should be translated so that everyone can understand what it is going on. Even people whose native language is being used in decisions might not feel included in discussions if the more confident members of the group talk amongst themselves. Because of this, most of the time Team 69 operates a system where if someone wants to speak, then they raise their hand and people tend to be allowed to speak in the order their hands went up. This doesn't always work when there are decisions to be made quickly, as sometimes the discussion can go between a handful of people. This is however an exception to the rule, and I feel on the most part we make decisions in a fair and exclusive manner. Occaisionally since coming to Aleppo, a few decisions have been made in Arabic then the decision has been passed on to the UK volunteers in English. This isn't really inclusive as it means the UK volunteers can't take part in the decision making process. However, this makes me wonder if at times we did the same kind of thing in Glasgow, as although the Syrian volunteers are better at English than we are in Arabic, if we talk too fast amongst ourselves then it is difficult for them to understand.
Some of our CADs has included an element of social inclusion. Physically and mentally disabled are normally excluded from general society because of their disability and because of stigma from society. Through our CADs, we have attempted to include disabled children by playing with them. Other CADs that have had an element of social inclusion have been:
  • The clean up in Govan (which included members of the community who were asylum seekers, a normally socially excluded group),
  • Painting of the mosque's fence (this was with an inter-faith organisation, who includes people from a variety of religions).

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