Final message from Dr Terry Riley
This will be my final announcement to all BDA members, Staff, the Board and friends.
Last Saturday the new Board took over from the old, I would like to say a personal thank you to two people, firstly Linda Day, Vice chair, who has supported the BDA for over six years and worked immensely hard. Secondly, Trudi Collier for her support, both have resigned and are focusing on new activities which is positive.
I would like recap for a moment, within the last year BDA has successfully established the ‘British Sign Language (BSL) Charter’, I know one or two people have shared their views and said that it is rubbish and should be ripped up. If those people were there last Saturday listening to the speeches - wow - it was impressive! People don’t realise that the BSL charter has had a lot of success, mostly in the Midlands regions; Nottingham, Derby and Leicester with support from the NHS with its many departments, the Police, Health, Trusts, Doctors, GP’s, Dentists - all in favour of the BSL Charter. The charter alone is not enough, once it has been signed and Deaf forums set up, this empowers the forums to lobby with BDA’s support. I think that’s important, Derby have their own forum, Nottingham have a women’s wellbeing group. It’s not the charter alone, it’s the influences, the positives, people don’t see all of that.
Recently the House of Lords called for evidence on the Equality Act. David (Buxton) and I attended, it was the first time any Deaf participant had presented in BSL in the House of Lords, they also provided two interpreters plus there was live streaming – that’s a positive move politically.
Stormont in Northern Ireland – there has been a lot of positive movements but unfortunately due to the ongoing political conflict, all business has ceased for over a year now. I strongly feel that if Stormont had continued working we would have had a BSL and ISL Act. We will have to wait and see, for now we will continue to lobby. Plus we have had positive discussions with Sinn Féin and DUP. What’s interesting is that the DUP, for the first time ever, in their annual conference provided a BSL interpreter onstage, wow, access at last. Sinn Féin already provides an ISL interpreter in Dublin, that’s influencing, plus the reaction and the ripple this causes.
BSL Act. We have lobbied the APPGD, held discussions with Government, DWP, ATW and so on. Unfortunately this has not resulted in an Act because of Brexit everything has had to be put on hold due to all the changes in law. We will keep negotiating, whether it will be for a year, two years I don’t know but we will never give up the fight for an Act.
When I became Chair about nine years ago, BDA had around ten to fifteen staff members, now that has risen to over fifty, based in Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and England. We have over fifty mentors in the Deaf Roots and Pride project which means the staff numbers have grown considerably.
What’s interesting and important is that, staff have managed to raise over £3 million for funding and projects which means we can continue to set up and work in those areas and BDA does not need to subsidise them. It’s important that we thank staff for all their hard work, efforts, tolerance, scrimping and pure commitment to the BDA, so that it may continue.
The Board of Trustees has now changed, some have joined the new board, some have resigned, I would like to thank you for your support and commitment to our vision.
When I became Chair, one year later the Pensions Trust told us we were in debt by over 1.4 million and said that we had to pay – we could not refuse as this was legal. The Board convened and discussed this at the AGM, we agreed that we would make payments yearly over the period of ten years. We have just been informed that this has been extended to twelve and half years because of other pension debts which we are liable to pay. We will continue to make those payments.
I think It’s important to let you know that the Board last year allocated £130,000, this year the same amount will be saved, plus a massive £470,000 into safekeeping. Not wanting the new Board to be worried about making payments we have managed to protect this for the next three years so again a huge thanks to the board for their hard work, belt-tightening and contribution. The final thing I want to say is that pension payments started 2011 and have continued into 2018 totalling a million wow! Of course BDA has to, hopefully BDA is safe for the future - hopefully.
Now all is secure, I would like to hand over to Agnes the new Chair, and Board with full support. But like the Terminator, I’ll be back!
Farewell and bye!