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Influencing power: The parents improving deaf children's services in Manchester

Published Date: 24 Oct 2019

CHSWGs (Children’s Hearing Services Working Groups) are affectionately pronounced ‘chizzywigs’, but the work of their members is more important than this makes them sound. Holly and Cat, co-chairs of the Manchester group, tell us about the vital work they do to improve support for deaf children and their families.

“A CHSWG is a multi-agency group, which aims to improve the local services for deaf children and young people,” they explain. “The CHSWG includes professionals (such as audiologists, speech therapists, and teachers of the deaf), charities (such as the National Deaf Children’s Society), and families, who are represented by parents.

“Our CHSWG meets four times a year, and we work collaboratively to monitor, develop, and improve services for deaf children,” the pair go on to add.

For the two co-chairs, it’s part of the reason why they got involved in the first place. “We thought it would be a great way to help to shape and improve the local services that our children rely on,” they say. “We want the CHSWG to be a powerful tool to influence strategic planners, and to ensure that the needs of deaf children remain high on their agenda.”

As a duo, Cat and Holly say co-chairing the group together has been a “really informative and interesting experience”.

“As a parent of a deaf child you rely heavily on services such as sensory support and audiology, so it's really interesting to learn more about how the services are run, get to know the professionals, and facilitate really interesting discussions between professionals and parent reps.

“It can be nerve-wracking to lead the meeting and talk in front of a group of professionals and other parents, but it's also been a very empowering experience,” they say.

The co-chairs say that such empowerment comes from allowing parents to have their voices heard by professionals involved in their children’s care. “By working collaboratively, parents, young people, professionals and charities can use their combined influence to improve services and ensure positive outcomes for deaf children.

“It's also really interesting to learn about how services are structured in your area, and how they are performing,” they go on to add. “Your unique experience as a parent of a deaf child is essential in feeding back to professionals and helping to shape services.”

For more information about CHSWGs and how you can get involved, visit our Family Involvement page.

Liam O'Dell

Liam is a Campaigns Officer at the National Deaf Children’s Society. He is mildly deaf, and wears hearing aids in both ears.