British Sign Language Society Chair - Hope Bragg

It’s time we Bragg-ed about Hope – the founder of the British Sign Language Society

She’s been a trustee, a rep, a peer supporter, Community and Wellbeing officer, and this year she founded the Salford BSL Society. You’ve really got to hand it to her. Hope told us how she helped students sign up to sign. 

Why start a British Sign Language Society? 

I started the British Sign Language Society in January 2019. For me, learning to sign was a necessity. I started to lose my hearing when I left school, and it’s dulling as I get older. One day signing might be the only way I can communicate. When I got to Uni I started speaking to people who wanted to learn, friends wanted me to teach them. Three or four people asked, so then I started asking them – “if there was a society, would you join it?”

What Keeps Me Going

The best part is when people are engaged. When someone’s worried that they’re never going to get it, never going to remember a sign, and then they do. That’s great. We took a group photo, a screenshot, and we put it on our social media. One of our members commented saying how lucky she felt to be a part of BSL Society – I felt like I was gonna cry!

Free Online Sign Language Sessions

When lockdown started, we moved online. It was a lot easier for us that for some other societies. In a typical session, we’ll go over our signs from last week, then me or Ben (Hodge, the Secretary of BSL Society) will run through new vocab for the week. We ask people what they want to learn – then we play some games. Stuff like finger spelling wordsearches and pretending you’re ordering in a restaurant.

Skills I’ve Gained  

Planning is one of the biggest skills I’ve gained. There’s so much to running a society that people don’t see. So much goes into it. Finding out what people want to do, making a list of signs, planning the sessions, sending emails.

Delegation too. I have a habit of taking on everything, but I’ve started saying to Ben “I need you to take this for me”. Realising where my capacity is – that’s a big learning curve.

Training and Support from the SU 

The online courses for the USSU Bronze Communicator award were interesting and kept me occupied over lockdown. I also did a lot of training when I started as a school rep. Stuff about how to talk to people and get information out of them. Stuff like that has been invaluable.

For me the biggest thing has been watching talented people, learning from being around them. Previous sabbatical officers – Jon Connor, Meg, Temi, Evie. Jon taught me about having confidence. I’m notorious for talking myself down, but Jon said “You can do this, I’m here with you, prove it to yourself”. Temi will send me messages like “you’re doing great, I’m happy you’re around, you’re doing the right thing”

I want to thank all the staff at the SU – everyone has been superstars, from Ed (Moloney, CEO), to all through the SU. I’ve not met anyone that hasn’t been willing and happy to help. There’s an attitude of – I will get involved – I will help you.

Why Should Others Volunteer? 

You should try everything out and find out what it is you want to do. I came to Uni with a solid plan, to graduate, to do my masters, and get into publishing. The more I do with the union, the more I think – this is where I want to be – with Uni students.

My initial plan is crumbling, because I’ve found my passion! If you have a solid plan, you can be blinded to what’s outside of it.

A Reference from Stephen Smallman, Societies Coordinator

Hope has been fantastic committee member this semester, proactively driving her society forward through unique online events and activities. In addition to her society work, she's been actively involved in other volunteering within the Students' Union and wider University community this semester, a testament to her nature and drive.

Get Involved with BSL Society! 

The BSL Society have weekly online sessions on Wednesdays form 1-2. Follow us on Instagram @ussu_bsl, and on Facebook USSU BSL Society (@ussubsl)

Friday 18th December 2020