Café 55: The number one place for coffee, cake and community!

Cafe 55 street sign.
Cafe 55 street sign.

Right by Exeter Central Station, supported by a Roman Wall, sits a 120-year-old chapel. While this sounds like something out of The Da Vinci Code, the mystery is solved as soon as you walk through the front door. Cafe 55 feels more like someone’s living room than your standard café. There are books on the wall and the hypnotising smell of fresh chocolate brownies. It took a generous Sense supporter to leave a gift in their will before the café could start and, it has taken the centre manager, Jane, nearly 10 years to get it to where it is today.

Officially open in 2010, Café 55 started as a trial project funded by a supporter’s gift in their Will. Jane was hired to run the project and initially it was open one day a week. As it grew more popular, they expanded to three times a week. The idea behind Café 55 was to create a safe space for anyone (connected to Sense or not) to come, relax and eat. It was to provide work experience and life skills to people supported by Sense.

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Sign Language is International

Learn 5 simple signs

Hello everyone. My name is Anna and I have been profoundly deaf since birth. I have been working at Sense for 12 years now and absolutely love it. Before Sense, I had a number of other roles, but Sense has been the most deaf aware organisation I have worked for. It could just be the changing of the times but I know that Sense takes its communication very seriously.

While I have a great manager and a great team, there is one thing I would change. I wish everyone would learn just a bit of sign language. Now this isn’t just the office but when I am out in public too. The funny thing is most people don’t realise that they use sign language every day. When they are waving hello or giving someone the ‘thumbs up’.

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A gift for two brothers!

George and his brother, Jon.

Sense TouchBase South East stands at the top of a hill, tucked away from the busy high street in Barnet. For over ten years, I have been commuting to this now retired battery factory to support people who are deafblind or have complex disabilities, and although it has existed for a quarter of a century, every day feels new. The centre was initially funded by a gift in a Will from a generous Sense supporter. TouchBase South East has been a gift to so many families, including my own.

My brother George is a year younger than me. I think most people can tell that we are brothers straight away but George is slightly different to me. He has a number of health conditions that have caused learning disabilities, visual, hearing and physical impairments, and epilepsy. With all of this, George is understandably very hesitant when meeting new people and going to new places. He is more than happy sitting on the sofa with our mum watching ‘Only Fools and Horses’.

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Connecting Communities: Sense Walks

A group of people stood outside and posing for a photo. They are wearing orange Sense tshirts and are holding Sense purple and orange banners and balloons.

What is Sense Walks? ?

Every June, for Deafblind Awareness Week, communities join forces up and down the country to put on a Sense Walk with the idea of bringing everyone together in their local communities. Sense Walks helps us spread the word of the work we do and the support we provide to people in local communities. Filled with bright colours, many balloons, face painting and much more, people came together to spread awareness of Sense.

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Phil’s RidgeWalk journey

Three people wearing walking clothes and are stood outdoors smiling. There is a man and two women smiling.

The Trail magazine competition offered free entry to the Ridgewalk and 3 guest blogs on its website. As a fledgling writer trying to expand horizons I was tempted. There was the minor issue of 52 miles to cover, but hey I needed a challenge. And the sponsorship target seemed achievable. 

Frankly, this wasn’t the most commendable motivation and somewhat selfish. It got me signed up though –  training would need to be well advanced by the time the winner was announced. Which proved good judgement – I didn’t win but was committed now. No backing out.

Fast forward two months, the first 30-mile training walk under the belt, sponsorship in need of a boost so time to hit social media. Out of the blue came £100 from a business colleague. Turns out he used to be a Sense trustee; his daughter was profoundly disabled from birth and received a lot of help from the charity. Thoughts went back to when we first met, two days after his daughter died, things still raw. Forget business, we just talked. The Ridgewalk was suddenly taking on meaning. Which felt kind of nice.

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23-year-old Beth Jones takes on a 100 Mile Cycle race, and raises money to support disabled adults, like her brother.

? 23-year-old Beth Jones was inspired to take part in the Prudential Ride London-Surrey 100 to raise money for Sense, after seeing first-hand the difference we make to the people we support, including to her brother Callum.

Beth’s brother Callum has epilepsy and severe learning difficulties, and attends our Sense day centre in Streatley, Bedfordshire. We support Callum by removing barriers of communication, which gives him the opportunity to connect and experience the world!

Girl and boy are posing for a photo together.

“Despite the challenges that Callum faces, he has always been happy, curious and engaged with all the world has to offer.” – Beth

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Free Personal Care: Is it the solution to the social care crisis?

One person is being supported to have her cup of tea given to her.

There are currently a lot of ideas being discussed about how to reform the social care system. One of the top proposals for solving the social care crisis is Free Personal Care, but what does it mean, and how would it affect the people Sense supports? 

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Why work for Sense? Find out for yourself at a Job Fair, coming to a town near you soon!

A man is being supported by a lady who is touching his hands whilst signing to him.

Are you looking for a new job?  Or considering a career change?  Sense has a wonderful array of career and volunteering opportunities available, and will be appearing at a series of Job Fairs across the country this year to promote them.

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Together we can do so much: Celebrating Helen Keller Day

Two ladies wearing dresses. One woman is looking at another. They both have their hair tied up.

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” Helen Keller.

Many people are familiar with ‘The Miracle Worker’ and the story of Helen Keller. She has appeared in Time Magazine as one of the 100 most influential figures of the 20th century and during her life, rubbed shoulders with the political and literary elite. However, this was just the tip of the iceberg. At Sense, we see her as a communicator, an educator, an activist and a beacon of kindness. From the moment she understood the word ‘water’, she spent her life challenging people’s perceptions of what it means to be deafblind.Today we are celebrating Helen Keller Day. She made it her life’s work to ensure that no one was left out of life and her achievements have inspired people all over the world. We have put together some of our favourite facts about Keller.

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How Kanhai and Alison combatted loneliness

Two people sat at a kitchen table and smiling towards the camera with their lunch on the table.

Friends, family, colleagues and celebrities are now all just a click away. Social media and the internet have shrunk the world while growing our circle of contacts. Socialising is a necessary need for humans, and technology has changed the landscape in which it occurs. However, not everyone has access to this broad new horizon and keeping friendships are harder than ever. Loneliness Awareness Week runs from 17 to 21 June and aims to highlight that loneliness is something that affects us all at some point in our lives.

Alison and Kanhai have been friends for well over a decade now, always living relatively close by. Both are deafblind with learning disabilities and both communicate using British Sign Language (BSL). This shared language made their bond stronger as, regardless of what was happening in each other’s lives, they could always talk to each other. They met regularly, ate together, laughed together and on more than one occasion went on holiday together.

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