volunteer showing his mk deaf zone tshirt

Deaf History in Milton Keynes

Local Deaf history is just as important as national deaf history. Milton Keynes deaf history is slightly different to other towns and cities in that Milton Keynes is a ‘new town’ (and now officially a city) so the roots of the deaf community stem from people coming together from across the UK to form a community.

Most established towns have a deaf community. During industrialisation, many communities developed around deaf schools. Milton Keynes is unique in that respect as MK is a collection of towns and villages that is now a unitary authority with no official deaf school.

All schools in Mk are mainstream schools with some having a specialist deaf unit attached. Unfortunately, education has focussed on the oral method rather than supporting BSL and Deaf Culture. Despite repeated efforts to fight for recognition of Deaf Culture, public bodies remain focussed on speech and cochlear implants for deaf children. Like all towns and cities, the local community are unable to share their knowledge, skills and culture to future generations.

The community had support from Milton Keynes Council to set up the first Deaf Club around 1997.

The first Deaf Club in Milton Keynes

The first club was based in Neath Hill community centre. Milton Keynes Council provided the initial funding to cover the costs of hiring the community rooms.

Community members came together and set up a committee to run events. Like many traditional clubs, volunteers set up games, parties and different activities for the whole community to join in. Unfortunately, the club closed due to lack of volunteers.

There was a period of time where there was no Deaf Club (despite the need for people to get together). Some members of the community recognised the need and set up a events like ‘the Deaf Picnic’

Deaf picnic

The Deaf Community will always find ways to come together share stories, learn from each and share Deaf Culture.

Deaf Club – Downs Barn

The next venue for MK Deaf Club was the Cross and Stable Church in Downs Barn. There were many happy community events including Halloween and Christmas parties. Sign Language students were also welcome to join in with the community. Check out the photos from some of the events:

Here is a copy of one of the newsletters. It gives you an insight into the activities that were important to Mk Deaf Community:

MK Deaf Club Christmas newsletter 2006

MK Deaf Zone – Broughton Pavilion

The new community club was based in Broughton Pavilion and provided a number of activities such as a Wednesday lunch club for over 65s (although any age was welcome) and Deaf Club events on Saturday evenings. MK Deaf Zone developed into a collection of different activities: badminton group, walking group, climbing group and craft group. All groups were headed by volunteers who had an interest in the particular activity.

Group activities were further supported by advice and employment sessions run by Access Ambassadors.

Other group activities included a Diabetes session, learning about the NGT service and helping volunteers gain their first aid certificate.

MK Deaf Zone – Wednesday Club

Covid 19 has had a significant impact on MK Deaf Zone’s activities. The Wednesday club is the only session that runs regularly. It is held in the John Lewis community room, once a month, on Wednesday afternoon.

Wednesday club members are in consultation with SARC, the local (Council funded) deaf service, to find out what they can offer the local Deaf Community. These discussions are ongoing so any updates to their offering will be added here.

You can support Deaf community activities but volunteering at events or helping with organising events. Get in touch via the contact page if you are able to support MK Deaf Zone activities