New CEO For Cumbria Deaf Association Look To Provide More For The Community

The new CEO of an organisation that provides vital support for the deaf community is planning to take on more staff and expand its services.

Caroline Howsley, who has been general manager of Cumbria Deaf Association for the last two years, has been named as its new CEO.

CEO Caroline Howsley – Harry Atkinson Paternoster Row, Carlisle, Cumbria

Cumbria Deaf Association provides a range of support and services to the deaf community.

When Caroline joined as general manager two years ago, the organisation was suffering from a lack of consistent leadership, as well as from reduced donations and revenue due to the pandemic.

During her time as general manager Caroline worked hard to network in the community and raise the organisation’s profile, as well as improving its governance and planning for recovery in the wake of Covid-19. 

“When I joined there were concerns around whether CDA really was a going concern or not,” said Caroline. 

“We analysed every single payment that came in and out and where it came from, what we were paying for, what contracts we had, and we cleared everything that was unnecessary.

“We stripped it right back down to the basics and from there it enabled us to really look at what we want and what we need.

“Now we’re moving forward in a really positive way.”

Over the last two years, the number of people employed by the association has doubled from five to ten.

In the coming year further appointments are expected, with two more British Sign Language interpreters, along with a Family and Youth Officer and a Care Coordinator to grow the current community based support service.

Successes include the growth of the interpreting service the organisation offers.

“The service provides interpreters to people, who can accompany them into a number of settings, including job interviews, legal or medical appointments, educational settings or family events.

“We have almost doubled the interpreting provision from its pre-Covid levels,” said Caroline. 

“We also looked at new opportunities and next spring we’ll be launching some new products and services.

“But the key thing is that we cut down the amount of work we’re doing in some areas to focus on what we’re really good at.”

In the future, the organisation is planning to work with universities to train more interpreters, as well as with colleges to give students in subjects such as health and social care more knowledge of how to work with the deaf community. 

“What we’ve done over the past two years is really to help inform the deaf community what they’re entitled to,” she said.

Caroline urged anyone who thought they could get help from CDA to get in touch.

“The deaf community are now actually contacting us, asking for interpreters to go to doctors and dentist appointments, whereas previously they would try and manage on their own.

“They are legally entitled for support and now they know that, and they are asking for it.

“Another example of growth is supporting and training businesses, who can get in touch if they need help around how they can help their deaf visitors.

“We have a super ageing population, especially in Cumbria, and it’s essential that we address people’s hearing loss as they age and how to make events, venues and the workplace more accessible for everyone.”

CDA chair Charlie Allgrove said: “We’re delighted to have appointed Caroline as CEO. 

“Since joining us, not only has she guided us through the uncertainty of the pandemic, but also stabilised the business and has a clear strategic vision for increasing our services in 2023 and beyond. 

“She’s also ensured that she’s participated in activities with the deaf community throughout Cumbria and has raised the profile and visibility of the organisation as a result.

“We are looking forward to engaging with more of the community under her leadership.”

To find out more about CDA and the services it offers go to: www.cumbriadeaf.org.uk