Lets Loop Southampton is a voluntary organisation founded by Steve and Chris Beal in 2017 that aims to make Southampton the first City in England to have a hearing loop in every public space.
Since founding, we have partnered with Healthwatch Southampton to visit every business and public space in Southampton to audit whether they have a working hearing loop system, then work with key stakeholders to encourage businesses to install hearing loops.
Approximately 33,500 (over 13%) of residents of Southampton currently have a condition that affects their hearing to some degree. With an aging population, this number is expected to continue to rise. The inability to effectively communicate results in a significant amount of people feeling vulnerable and not wanting to venture out to busy city centres, affecting businesses and individuals alike.
Under the Equality Act 2010 businesses, shops and public buildings in England, Scotland, Wales and ROI are expected to make reasonable adjustments to any building used by the public. Hearing disability is often misunderstood with a standard response being to shout! Very often this isn’t effective as hearing loss is much more complicated. Much research has been carried out to try and improve conditions for those with a hearing condition. One of the most effective ways of doing this is by providing a working loop system. Hearing loops are inexpensive and allow individuals with hearings aids to communicate easier with staff at till points, receptions etc.
With the blessing of Southampton City Council Lets Loop is working to educate those in Southampton of their duty to ensure premises are accessible to all. Our aim is to make Southampton the first City to be fully looped.
We have already seen great improvements to the City in the past year. Key improvements include:
- Southampton Football Club installing over 20 hearing loops to St Marys Stadium
- Partnering with Healthwatch Southampton to inspect GP practices across the City
- Receiving a commitment from local Business Improvement District GoSouthampton! to establish a £4000 grant for independent businesses inside the BID to acquire funding for hearing loops.
- Cath Kidston committing to installing hearing loop systems across all their stores nationwide
- New Look installing a hearing loop system in Southampton
- The Body Shop committing to inspecting all their hearing loops nationwide
Quotes and Testimonials
“We’re supporting the Let’s Loop Southampton campaign as it will help to make the city’s retail district more open and welcoming to all. We fully support the traders who have already installed hearing loops and maintain them, and are looking forward to more retailers following their excellent example.” – Cllr Warwick Payne, Cabinet member for Housing and Adult Care
“Let’s Loop Southampton have done a fantastic job identifying some of the stores and facilities in the Southampton that currently do not have loops installed. But better than that they have persuaded some to install or repair existing loops. It is so important that we all continue to work to support the hearing impaired community and encourage others to do likewise.” – Caroline Nokes MP, Romsey and Southampton North
“By not looping our City, we are creating barriers for those affected to get out and integrate within our community. Over time these barriers disencourage our residents to engage, increasing social isolation and loneliness. Healthwatch Southampton is committed to continue working with Lets Loop Southampton to help to tackle this growing issue.” – Rob Kurn Manager, Healthwatch Southampton
“We have had a loop system in branch for a number of years, which should always be regularly checked by our maintenance team. However When Lets Loop came in to check they found a few areas where this was not the case. It was hugely useful for us to get feedback so we could put it right as there is little point having the equipment if it is not working correctly. We were able to swiftly address the problems and get ourselves fully operational thanks to Lets Loops support. We hope customers who need this system find it useful and helpful and look forward to being able to welcome them to our shop.” – Adrian Young, John Lewis
“Let’s Loop highlighted a need for us to improve the loops that we had and to expand our coverage to different areas. Their help and advice was invaluable, and we are delighted that we are even more accessible for our visitors with a hearing loss condition. Thank you to Steve and the team!” – Khali Parsons, Supporter Relations Manager, Southampton FC
“The ability to communicate is the most important of all human functions, and the inability to do so affects every aspect of people’s lives. Business’s, especially retail, depend for their very existence on communication and persuading customers to buy their goods. It is therefore astonishing that any business would choose to exclude potential customer that have hearing difficulties – especially when a proper loop system is such a low price item for any business – They are losing the spending power of these people. We champion those few businesses that have taken these issues seriously.” – Ian Loynes, Chief Executive, SPECTRUM Centre for Independent Living
“I always encourage hearing aid wearers to use loop systems as they can make a big difference to someone’s ability to hear in a difficult listening environment. This was a timely and important project and I am delighted to see that it has already made a big impact locally and nationally.” – Dr Victoria Watson PhD, Clinical Scientist (Audiology) ISVR, University of Southampton
“I would like to thank Let’s Loop and Healthwatch Southampton for this report. It is vital we support people with a hearing loss condition. That is why NHS Southampton City CCG has already set up a hearing loop in our building and I encourage more businesses to work with Let’s Loop and set up hearing loops.” – John Richards, NHS Southampton City Clinical Commissioning Group
“This initiative can make such a difference for the experience of visiting the City and Go Southampton is fully committed to supporting this scheme and will help promote more businesses to consider a Loop system that will benefit their customers.” – Spencer Bowman, Metricks Coffee and Go Southampton Vice Chair
About Healthwatch Southampton
Healthwatch Southampton is your voice in improving health and social care. Established in 2013 we have been working hard to improve patient and public voice and ensure services are listening and responding to our needs and ideas for improvement. We have three main aims:
- To be an independent, influential and effective voice for the public
- To provide an information, advice and signposting service
- To provide independent health (NHS) complaints advocacy
Healthwatch Southampton relies on your views and experiences of health and social care services. We actively seek these in many ways – through surveys, community engagement and our online Feedback Centre. With this information we can then seek change either directly for individuals or for affected groups. We are recognised by health and social care services and have a track-record in getting change and improvement.