A Day with Clare Baars
Clare Baars, Regional Volunteering Development Partner at Alzheimer’s Society
Clare grew up in St. Alban’s which is just outside London in Hertfordshire. Upon her completion of the degree, she moved to London, and even though, she is quite new to the capital, she has always loved visiting it and has managed to settle herself in well. Breaking world records (world’s largest Charleston dance get together) and not only exploring London herself but being an excellent guide to her foreign friends.
At her previous job post, Clare was Regional Volunteer Manager, at the charity Action on Hearing Loss (formerly RNID). Quite surprisingly, Clare is a fluent British Sign Language speaker. She never had a need to learn it but she got involved in the BSL classes in school with view of helping local deaf children and has continued to learn it at university, before completely submersing herself in the environment doing charity work.
Her new role which she started in September proves to be a significant step forward. She now works at Alzheimer’s Society where she holds the post of Regional Volunteering Development Partner for Greater London and Central England.
Introduction from Julia:
I met Clare at University of Exeter where she was reading French and Russian. I was a member of the Russian Society where she was a Social Secretary, organising wonderful events that engaged both Russian students at the University, as well as those studying the language. We quickly became friends, sharing our passion for dressing up for the parties and chatting about Russian language and culture. Although, I find it hard to think of anybody who is going to forget Clare quickly: she is the most likeable person you’ll ever meet. She is an exceptionally engaging, creative, passionate and driven young lady who has found herself progressing up the career ladder in the charity industry.
Julia: Why did you learn British sign language?
Clare: I went to a secondary school where some of my fellow pupils were profoundly deaf and used British Sign Language as their first language. I remember sitting in a drama class at the age of 11 completely and utterly mesmerised by the visual poetry and raw emotional expression of this silent language. From that point onwards, I was determined to master this beautiful language and have since progressed through levels 1-3 and am currently studying for my Level 6 portfolio, which will open doors to becoming an interpreter in future.
Julia: What progress have you seen at your previous job?
Clare: Action on Hearing Loss (formerly RNID) is a charity that was established in 1911 and has since been working tirelessly so that people with any level of hearing loss might feel fully engaged in society and have equal access to services, leisure facilities and employment prospects without discrimination. The progress I have seen for this community in the last 15 years has been immense. Since British Sign Language was recognised as an official language in 2003, members of the Deaf Community accessibility has improved and people feel more empowered, but we still have a long way to go.
Paste a VALID AdSense code in Ads Elite Plugin options before activating it.
Julia: What are the challenges that deaf people face in London?
Clare: Some of the challenges Deaf people face in London are eased by better access to services and interpreters in the capital, but I would say that the most concerning challenge is access to health care. For a Deaf BSL user to fully understand what a Dr or nurse is saying, they ought to have access to a fully qualified BSL interpreter, but it is sometimes difficult to find an Interpreter at short notice for emergency appointments. This has resulted in lots of Deaf people receiving treatment or medication without understanding what it is because there has been no interpreter present, which can obviously be quite worrying for the individual.
Julia: How are you finding your new role?
Clare: I’m really enjoying my new role at Alzheimer’s Society and find myself part of a very driven and high-reaching team of people striving for a dementia free world. My job is very much about engaging and developing our 10,000 strong volunteer force so that we can make this dream a reality sooner.
Julia: What are some of you favourite places in London?
Clare: Wow, that’s a tough question – I have so many! Top of my list would have to be Covent Garden for my inner fun-loving butterfly. At Covent Garden you can easily spend a whole afternoon fliting and fluttering between a range of daredevil, knife-juggling, fire-breathing street performers, amazing eateries and the occasional art installation as well, not to mention the sound of classical music emanating from the lower court yard around the Apple Market and bustle of visitors from all four corners of the globe.
Another favourite spot of mine is St Katherine Docks near to where I work to the East of Tower Bridge. On a clear, sunny day the light ripples over the water beneath some of the city’s most beautiful boats, including the Queen’s barge, Gloriana. It’s a peaceful corner of the city that not many tourists have yet discovered and surrounding the docks are a wide range of restaurants where you can sit for a leisurely lunch watching the world float by.
The most recent acquisition to my collection favourite places in London would have to be the Sky Garden at 20 Fenchurch Street, or the ‘Walkie Talkie’ building as it’s affectionately called locally. Here you can access a stunning view of London’s top sites from the custom made garden bar and terrace whilst enjoying live music during the evening sessions. Tickets can be booked for free online, but be sure to get in quick as they’re very popular!
Finally, I have fallen in love with Greenwich. From the 19th century Cutty Sark cargo ship that has fared many a wild storm and more recently a fire or two, the winding vintage markets and the hill top Royal Observatory from which vantage point you can admire the view of the city, a whole day might slip away with so much to see and do there!