dDeaflinks, Staffordshire started as North Staffordshire Adult Deaf and Dumb Society in 1868 in a small rented classroom in hope street Hanley. Financed solely from the donations of local people (usually business owners). Its purpose was to provide weekly meetings and religious services for Deaf people over the age of 16, whose needs had previously not been met. However, the society proved also to be an invaluable source of support and contact for the local Deaf community.
In 1917 the society moved to Victoria place, Hanley which gave more room, constantly growing in numbers, the society campaigned tirelessly for their own premises, and finally in 1936 they were able to raise the approximate £3,000.00 needed to buy rights to a plot of land on the allotments in Wellesley Street, Shelton. On July 2nd, 1936 the initial foundations for what was to be known as the Church and Institute for the Deaf and Dumb were officially and ceremoniously laid.
In 1936 the building reached completion. The society organised regular meetings and services for deaf people, but in addition to this, became the main source of support in all aspects of members lives.
For example, the society largely assumed responsibility for finding the members suitable employment and housing, support in legal matters etc. The society even offered personal support such as the sending of Christmas gifts to members who were known to be alone during the festive season.
Much of the advice, counsel and assistance provided by the society during the early years were to be accredited to the unstinting dedication of one man, Mr Joseph Ellis. First recruited to the society in 1932 Joe Ellis served the Deaf community as Principle and Secretary for over 45years. His own individual work within the Deaf community resulted in both public recognition (he was awarded the MBE in 1960 and an OBE ten years later) and also the posthumous renaming of the Institute in 1976 to “The Ellis Memorial centre for the Deaf”, which is still known today as the Ellis Centre.
A name change in 2001 to dDeaflinks Staffordshire aimed to indicate two groups represented by dDeaflinks. The lower-case d represents the hard of hearing groups and the capital D represents those who are profoundly deaf and use BSL as their means of communication.
Services and support to the dDeaf community are equally in demand today as they were in 1868 and dDeaflinks is proud to continue its strong history offering support and meeting its communities changing needs.