Your basket
Your basket
0 items - £0.00

Personal tools

Home News From skydiving to BSL: the work of our Chaplain to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

From skydiving to BSL: the work of our Chaplain to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

by Michael Ford last modified 20 Nov, 2019 04:34 PM

Our Minster to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing has been looking back over the past 12 months of his ministry – it includes a sponsored tandem skydive, a trip to Bolivia and Texas, and the icing on the cake, his licensing as full time Chaplain.

The Revd Neil Robinson is a profoundly deaf BSL user, and served his curacy in the Benefice of Bemerton Heath before being licenced to the whole Diocese in his new role in October.

And Neil’s year has certainly been full of travel:

“In May, I did a sponsored tandem skydive, 10,000 feet, and raised £300 for the Bolivia Mission project. I was proud of myself in that I overcame my fear of heights, it was a very memorable experience. My wife, Helen, went on a mission trip to Bolivia, as part of her Discipleship & Leadership Training course, in August.

“This money was used to buy things for the kitchen of the church in Bolivia for Deaf people called Christ Saves Church. The area she visited is unfortunately very poor, so they were very grateful for this donation.”

"I went to Texas and had the privilege to speak at Deaf Men’s Bible Study group meeting. I was able to communicate God’s Word using American Sign Language, which I am fluent in. It was God’s gift for me to honour Jesus in this way to encourage deaf men to follow Jesus. There were about 25 men from different cities and towns across Texas. During my stay, I learnt about how deaf Christians gathered as a church. The way they congregated was very similar to the early Christians that were mentioned in the book of Acts.

But closer to home, Neil has had a busy year here in the Diocese:

“This year's Visual Word Gathering, a deaf congregation based in Salisbury, has moved to SP2 Community Centre to meet and worship together. The facility at the centre is excellent as it is visually friendly. My wife, Helen, and I started to attend St Paul’s Salisbury this year as we felt called by God to do some work there. It would take time for people to get used to the new environment.

“In order to minister to the members of Bournemouth Deaf Club, I had to go through the process of obtaining a Permission To Officiate (PTO). I am pleased to announce that I was granted the PTO to allow me to continue with my work with the Deaf Club.

“I have made regular visits to Bridport Deaf Club where I have befriended a lot of people and managed to gain their trust, which has been great. The Committee members were kind to allow Bishop Karen and myself to use their hall for my licensing service in early October. I was officially licensed as the Chaplain on 5th October. I really appreciate the Committee for allowing us do this and make this happen for me."

Neil has also spent time interacting with others in the deaf and hard of hearing community:

“Networking with various chaplains is a part of my role to help me to build a good relationship with the chaplains. I attended the course called 'The Missionary Work of the Chaplain'. It gave me a rich insight of what the chaplaincy really meant to us.

“Recently I attended the Deaf Ministry Professional Development conference with my wife, Helen, and my colleague, Rev Gill Behenna. This conference helped me understand the concept of the cross-cultural ministry and the art of mentoring. The two speakers (one of them is deaf) were excellent at presenting the issues that they have faced over the years. It was a reflective lesson for me. I have had the privilege of presiding the communion service on the last morning.

“I had a meeting with Alison Fox, a counsellor who is hearing, to discuss access issues with deaf BSL users. To my surprise, her hearing colleague could sign! We had a good rapport and got to know each other a little bit and I could tell that she has a true heart for the deaf community.

“During September, I had a meeting with George Raggett - who himself is Hard of Hearing (HoH) and who a few years ago set up the Significance Choir - to discuss the possibility of setting up of a local Bible study group in and around the Parkstone, Poole area. So watch this space! I have had the privilege to preach at the local church, St. Clement’s Church in July and one of the BSL interpreters provided the English voiceover translation for the congregation.”

And there is much to do:

“I was also invited to preach at Sheffield Deaf Church on 6th December 2019. The Chaplain with Deaf people in Norwich has invited me to preach at their deaf church and will provide the staff at Winchelsea School with Deaf Awareness training in January.

“A couple who are missionaries working among the deaf community in Romania have invited me to teach at the Sign Language Discipleship & Leadership Training in March. I see it as a wonderful opportunity.”

Neil also wanted to thank his interpreters:

“Working with registered qualified BSL/ English interpreters is very valuable during my time as Chaplain. It gave me freedom to interact with hearing colleagues and an opportunity to network with various organisations and schools. I have Access To Work funding which will reimburse the fees for their services rendered.

And finally he looks to the future in his new role:

“I am sure that the ministry with deaf people will expand over the next year, so there is always hope in that direction.”

Document Actions