Lollipop York is our city’s dedicated charity for deaf children and young people aged 0 – 25. Since its founding in 2004 it has been serving York and North Yorkshire’s deaf community by providing free social activities for its members. These deaf-friendly social activities allow members to meet other deaf children and young people their own age and provides a safe space to experience new things together with communications support or a BSL interpreter present.

This year Lollipop is celebrating its 20th anniversary, and the occasion is going to be marked with a very special garden party held for Lollipop members and their families, original and past members who are coming back for a visit, friends and funders of the charity, and special guest Andrea Gitsham, who founded Lollipop 20 years ago. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has kindly donated their outside space at their headquarters on Water End to host the party which will be an afternoon of family fun and deaf-friendly entertainment, speeches, and of course, cake!

We are very lucky in York to have a charity devoted to the mental and social well-being of its young deaf community. Charity founder, Andrea Gitsham, shares what inspired her to set up Lollipop:

“When I was inspired to create Lollipop back in 2003, I was volunteering as an Artist in Education and my time involved teaching deaf students in a mainstream school setting. During this time I soon realised a gap in services for deaf children. I’d struggled myself as a young adult to adjust to a profound hearing loss and I hoped that, through my own experiences, I was well equipped to help address a gap in services for deaf children and young people in and around York. 

In 2004 at the time of the launch, my family’s encouragement reminded me that even a small impact was valuable.  Over 15 years as chairperson, and with support and encouragement of a countless number of stakeholders, Lollipop became a lifeline for many in North Yorkshire, fostering confidence and success among deaf children and young people.

Lollipop is my proudest achievement. Though I’ve passed on the leadership, I remain a devoted supporter. The current team’s dedication and development to services, especially through recent challenges, makes me incredibly proud. 

I’m thrilled to celebrate this milestone and reconnect with those who joined us from the beginning. It’s going to be a memorable day!”

Among other local children’s entertainers, the entertainment on the day will include Professor Dan, who is a local children’s performer who will be doing a magic show. He was one of the original members of Lollipop and a wonderful example of how being deaf does not need to hold you back from doing what you love.

At the event staff will be speaking to past members and gathering their special memories of their time at Lollipop and the impact it made on their lives. There are many that have been involved with Lollipop for a long time! Chairperson Laura Walker adds:

“I am honoured to have been involved in Lollipop for the past 10 years. I have enjoyed many roles as volunteer, activity leader and now as the current chairperson. I am so proud of all that Lollipop, as a small but dedicated charity, can offer to its members. Also, the staff who go above and beyond to keep Lollipop going. It’s been such a pleasure to be involved and I’m looking forward to seeing what the future holds for Lollipop.”

We are looking forward to sharing lots of photos of this special day very soon!