One in a Million: Margaret Hulse

Margaret Hulse is one in a million.

The 87-year-old attends the Deafness Resource Centre in St Helens and is one of the one million people to benefit from the Steve Morgan Foundation Covid-19 Emergency Fund since it was launched in March 2020. 

Here’s her story.

Margaret Hulse’s deafness has shaped a lot of her life.

The St Helens pensioner lost her hearing when she was a small child and met her husband at deaf school, where they were both British Sign Language users.  The couple have three children.

Margaret started working at 34 as she’d previously stayed at home to look after her father and brother, who is also profoundly deaf and a BSL user. She worked as a machinist for 12 years at Jacobs in Parr, making clothes for Marks and Spencer. 

She said: “Being deaf can be difficult when a lot of people are talking as they forget about us being deaf and a lot of people cannot use British Sign language. Even with family it can be the same when the family are all together and they are enjoying themselves and chatting.  Some talk to us but it is not the same. Sometimes it makes you feel left out.”

Margaret wears hearing aids and uses email and text to keep in touch with family and friends.

She was 16 when she first started going to the Deafness Resource Centre, which is one of the 400+ charities supported by the Steve Morgan Foundation Covid-19 Emergency Fund. 

“I started going to the deaf centre mostly to socialise and then as I got older, I started going for support with technology and advocacy services,” she recalled.

As she’s got older she’s continued to go the deaf club, where she would see her friends and her brother.

“I would also go to church service at the centre once a month where the chaplain conducts the service in British Sign Language,” she said.

Margaret admitted the pandemic and the rules around social distancing have had a massive impact on her life.

“It has been difficult,” she said. “My husband has recently moved to a care home and I have been unable to visit him because of Covid-19. I have also not had much contact with my family. Two of my sons live in other areas of England.  At the start, my son, who lives in St Helens, had to self-isolate for 14 days because he had symptoms and I was panicking because he would go shopping for me. 

“I text Ruth Turner, the advocate at the Deafness Resource Centre, who arranged for a staff member, Naomi Webb, to support me by going shopping for me.”

Margaret said the lack of face-to-face contact with the Deafness Resource Centre has added to the feeling of isolation.

“I have missed having contact and someone to chat to,” she said. “My neighbours do not use BSL.”

Thankfully she’s been able to stay in touch with the Deafness Resource Centre.

“Naomi has been shopping for me and if the weather is fine, I set up two chairs in the garden and Naomi takes the time to stay with me for a chat,” she said. 

“The contact is very important. It has been a big help because the staff at the Deafness Resource Centre are deaf aware and can communicate with me. Naomi has supported me with setting up Facebook so that I can have contact with the church Facebook group and have been able to learn how to use video call. I have been able to chat with Ruth, the advocate, by video chat which has been lovely.

“As I am unable to go out, Naomi contacted the care home and arranged to go there and facilitate a video call between me and my husband. If staff from the Deafness Resource Centre were not able to support me, I would not have been able to use Facebook to video call my husband and see him and chat face-to-face for the first time in three months because I wouldn’t have known how to do that. 

“Because of the Deafness Resource Centre, I have had the opportunity to learn how to use Facebook and I cannot thank Naomi enough for her patience in teaching me.”

The Deafness Resource Centre has been able to continue helping deaf people across Halton and St Helens after receiving £9,615 from the Steve Morgan Foundation Covid-19 Emergency Fund.

Margaret said: “I would say it has been great because the staff have been able to continue with providing support for deaf people. The work that the Deafness Resource Centre do is fantastic.”

Philanthropist and businessman Steve Morgan announced in March he would be giving up to £1m a week to charities in Merseyside, North Wales and Cheshire faced with a cashflow crisis as a result of Covid-19.

In the first eight weeks the Covid-19 Emergency Fund has made more than 400 awards to frontline charities and organisations – including the Deafness Resource Centre – helping over one million people in the process.

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