The East Lancashire Deaf Society (ELDS) operates across Lancashire, supporting the deaf and hard of hearing community.
The charity has received two loans from Charity Bank, the first to assist with the redevelopment of their King’s Court building, and the second for the development of new activities. Managing Director Doug Alker shares how crucial these loans were in helping them to realise these ambitious projects.
“At ELDS, we continuously strive for the rights of deaf people. Our vision is to break down barriers and build a world where equal opportunities exist in education, employment, access and involvement. We provide a continually growing range of services that help deaf people to navigate social difficulties and exclusion, including offering advice, signposting and interpretation, as well as outreach support and childcare services. We put the independence of deaf people at the centre of everything we do; 70% of our management committee is profoundly deaf and all of our social activities are organised by deaf people.
“As we have grown, we have continued to expand to ensure the charity’s sustainability and find new ways to serve the deaf and hard of hearing community. In 2010, we received our first loan from Charity Bank to help us transform a derelict listed building into a business enterprise centre, Kings Court. The building now offers a wide range of services and office space to meet local business requirements, while also acting as a social enterprise providing employment opportunities for deaf people.
“We had spoken to other, mainstream lenders for this project but the overwhelming response we got was that it was too speculative. Charity Bank’s loan effectively rescued the project at the eleventh hour and led the way for other lenders to then come on board.
“With help from a second Charity Bank loan five years later, we converted part of another of our buildings into a training facility for a new apprenticeship scheme. This provides young deaf people with the opportunity to gain experience and confidence in a work environment. Some of the features of this training facility include state-of-the-art technology, a carpentry-training workshop with professional equipment, and a bespoke classroom for study. Many of these apprentices have gone on to progress into employment within one of ELDS’s social enterprises, such as the Courthouse Restaurant or Home Solutions, a BSL-friendly repair and gardening service.
“The work that Charity Bank does as a social lender is vital. Charity Bank looks beyond the financial aspect and has a genuine interest in what we’re doing and the potential social impact. It is also quite important to us that our interest payments go back into the social sector to aid other charities and projects.
“The social sector is concerned about our community and our environment. Therefore, the importance of investing wisely to help support charities and organisations in this sector is crucial and we would encourage everyone to consider this when choosing a bank to save or borrow from.”