Local News

Councillor support charity move for Makaton-friendly Andover

Leading local charity Andover and District Mencap are looking to replicate Romsey in making Andover a ‘Makaton Friendly town’.

This will make Andover one of only a few towns in the country if not the world that are officially recognised as such.

A spokesperson for Andover and District Mencap told Love Andover, “The project costs in the region of £12,000 and we have already received support from Hampshire County Councillors Martin Boiles and Kirsty North to undertake this project.

“We are awaiting to see the outcome of grant applications to Andover Town Council and Test Valley to enable this project to become a reality.”

What is Makaton?

Makaton is a language programme using signs and symbols to help people to communicate. It is designed to support spoken language and the signs and symbols are used with speech, in spoken word order.

With Makaton, children and adults can communicate straight away using signs and symbols. Many people then drop the signs or symbols naturally at their own pace, as they develop speech.” (The Makaton Charity)

The Makaton Friendly scheme recognises organisations that strive to make their services accessible to people who use Makaton to aid their communication.

The charity’s CEO Chris Dixon commented “We are really excited about this project and we sincerely hope that we can secure the funding to make this a reality for the town of Andover.

“Makaton is a worldwide communication language and for Andover to join Romsey as a leader in spreading the word would be a truly magnificent thing for those that use Makaton as their tool to speak to the world”.

Local radio station 95.9FM Andover Radio has already committed to sign-up to the ADM campaign.

What makes a Town Makaton Friendly?

The Makaton Friendly scheme is designed to recognise towns that currently use Makaton and the people that use Makaton to feel welcome and enable them to access services within their community.

To be awarded Makaton Friendly status have demonstrated that they:

  • Understand that different people use alternative ways to communicate.
  • Provide a supportive and welcoming environment so that people who have learning or communication difficulties whatever age, can take part in the services that are provided by your organisation.
  • The use of Makaton symbols and signs around the organisation to aid inclusiveness and independence with signage and wayfinding

Andover (SP10 & SP11 postcodes) currently only have three organisations that are registered as Makaton Friendly:

  1. Vigo Primary School
  2. Norman Gate School
  3. Happy Hands Childminding

Vigo Primary School are well-known for their support of Makaton, led by teacher Mrs Weymouth, the young singers in their popular School Choir (pictured) uses sign language during their performances.

Andover and District Mencap (ADM) want to support organisations and companies in Andover to embrace Makaton and continue to make Andover a truly integrated community.

If successful with their applications ADM will be seeking thirty local companies and organisations from Andover to sign up to become ‘Makaton Friendly’ and to learn 20 signs or symbols.

If you are interested in being part of the project please contact: Chris Newman at Mencap via email.

About the author

David Harber

David Harber is the founder and Managing Director of Love Andover, including the Love Andover Observer newspaper and 95.9FM Andover Radio. He is a fellow at the Royal Society of Arts and a card carrying member of the Nation Union of Journalists.