Saturday 12th May 2018

On Saturday 12th May 2018 Huddersfield parkrun was proud to host one of two meet ups in the country for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. National Deaf Awareness Week is from the 14th to 20th May 2018.

Myself and Philippa Wynne, parkrun UK Outreach Ambassadors for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, wanted to celebrate the beginning of National Deaf Awareness Week by doing something a little different. Last year we had arranged three parkrun takeovers which were a great success. Two of these were in Huddersfield at Huddersfield parkrun and Huddersfield junior parkrun. We wanted to build on this success and continue to raise awareness and improve inclusivity at parkrun for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. This year as connections in the Deaf and Hard of Hearing parkrun community had strengthened, mostly through the Facebook Group, ‘parkrun for the deaf and hard of hearing’ and regular Newsletters, we decided to arrange two parkrun meet ups. One in Bromley at Philippa’s home parkrun, the other in Huddersfield my home parkrun. Deaf, Hard of Hearing, other hearing problems, carers, parents, family, teachers, signers, interpreters etc. were all very welcome. It was suggested that people might want to bring along friends and family to be a spectator, volunteer, run, jog or walk. Sign support would be available at both parkruns.

On the day Huddersfield parkrun had eight Deaf or Hard of Hearing parkrunners and several Teachers of the Deaf, support workers and family running. Numerous other Deaf or Hard of Hearing people, Teachers of the Deaf, support workers, charity workers and family members either volunteered or spectated.

We had both the first timers/new runners briefing and the main briefing in sign language by one of our 2 very regular volunteer signers Fiona McTague. I must add here that our other regular signer Angela Joseph had a prior commitment on the day and we missed her very much! Fiona and Angela both support us throughout the year offering sign support and I want to take this opportunity to thank them both very much. We also had Leah Swallow a regular Huddersfield parkrun runner and volunteer. Most of you probably know Leah, Leah is my daughter and was born severe to profoundly Deaf and was the person who inspired our whole family to join parkrun. We also had Sophie Chappell, Sophie is a local BSL interpreter who works as a communicator at a local school; both volunteered as signers available to meet and greet people.

The local charity, the Kirklees Deaf Children’s Society, arranged a cake stall and provided everyone with information and support on the day. The Kirklees Deaf Children’s Society made just over £200 which they will use to enable Deaf children in Kirklees to be involved in social activities.

People had travelled from other parkruns to visit Huddersfield parkrun especially for the event and spent time chatting, signing and generally getting to know one another. Their feedback was very positive and several said they will come back.

At Huddersfield parkrun we are currently able to offer sign support (volunteer role) of all our briefings on a weekly basis. We even had it on Christmas and New Years Day. We know we have at least 3 Deaf runners at Huddersfield parkrun regularly, that use sign language and we have also welcomed several Deaf visitors over recent times.

The list of contacts for numerous parkruns continues to increase gradually. This list includes the details of Sign Support or even just a contact person who can greet you on arrival at different parkruns. The list currently has 65 different parkruns in the UK where someone can be available on most weeks and it continues to grow. Obviously Huddersfield parkrun is on that list and we hope this helps put Huddersfield parkrun on the map as a welcoming and an inclusive parkrun!

It is has been an amazing year since the volunteer role of ‘Sign Language Support’ became official on all parkrun and junior parkrun rosters. We are seeing the role go from strength to strength with many parkruns having all their pre run briefings signed every week. There were over 500 separate instances of sign support across the UK since the role became official in its first year. This was made up of mainly Saturday parkruns but also some junior parkruns too.

A blog was produced to share on various platforms and is being shared across a number of different organisations, again increasing awareness of parkrun as an inclusive event for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. The link is here;

Saturday was a busy day at Huddersfield parkrun, our very regular runner and volunteer Sean Doyle was also celebrating 5 years since he woke up from an induced coma to be told he had suffered a heart attack whilst at Huddersfield parkrun. A number of other runners who like Sean are part of a group called ‘Cardiac Runners’ joined him and ran with us to help him celebrate. There was also a blog produced by parkrun UK. The link is here;

Thank you to all the runners, walkers, spectators and volunteers on the day. And thank you to Event Director Mark Nicholson and all the regular team for allowing Huddersfield parkrun to host our Deaf Meet Up and Sean to celebrate.

Keep on parkrunning! Victoria

Victoria Knight-Phillips. A1528987. Outreach Ambassador (Deaf and Hard of Hearing) & Social Media Ambassador (Volunteer) | parkrun UK and regular runner and volunteer at Huddersfield parkrun.