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Painting and decorating student reaching up to paint

Painting and decorating student making a difference at home and abroad

6th March 2020 – Tags: Painting & Decorating

Lara Scott, a Painting and Decorating student at City College Norwich, has not only advanced her decorating skills this year – she has worked tirelessly out of college to improve the lives of deaf young people in Sri Lanka and in Norfolk.

The 20-year-old from Norwich, who was born deaf, has taken inspiration from the amazing experiences she has gained as a volunteer – and is in turn proving to be an inspiration to others.

Lara Scott seated left with other volunteers in the redecorated school dormitary PICTURE LARA SCOTT

Renovating a deaf school in Sri Lanka

Taking up an opportunity through the charity VoluntEars, which organises deaf volunteering overseas, Lara joined 6 other volunteers over the Christmas break to help renovate a boarding school for deaf-blind children in Sri Lanka.

After fundraising £1,400 to make the trip possible, Lara was able to put her painting and decorating skills to very good use – contributing to a complete makeover to the main dormitory used by 28 boys who attend the school.

Reflecting on her volunteering experience in Sri Lanka, Lara says:

There’s really no words to describe it, going there and giving something for that community and seeing the community all come together. It’s a bit of a rush knowing that you’ve made things better, that you’ve helped, you’ve contributed.  Now the boys can use that room, they are sleeping in it, and they can continue with their education, because we went there and contributed something. It was a great experience.”

Lara Scott using her painting and decorating skills whilst in Sri Lanka PICTURE LARA SCOTT

Helping connect deaf young people in Norfolk

Lara’s desire to actively support deaf young people has continued since her return to Norfolk.  Together with four others, she is helping to run a new initiative called Norfolk Deaf Youth.

The idea is to bring together deaf young people in the county, to break down the isolation that they can experience, whilst generating new connections, opportunities, and positive self-belief.  Lara sums up the group’s aspiration as follows:

We want to give deaf youths a voice so they can do whatever they want to do. We don’t believe that deafness is a barrier. We can do anything if we put our minds to it. We just want to bring everyone together.”

Supporting deaf awareness within college

Lara has found the environment at City College Norwich to be inclusive and supportive of her desire to see deaf young people given the same opportunities as everybody else.  She says:

The staff are very involved, they want to know about deaf awareness, they are learning a bit of sign language.  Also, the other students, they will come up and talk to me, they involve me in things, I am involved in the group, I don’t feel isolated here.  It’s a lot different to what I expected and I am really enjoying the course.”

At this point Lara has several ideas about the direction she might take after she completes her current course.  Whatever she goes on to do in terms of education and work, she hopes to carry on making a difference for other deaf young people, whether at home or overseas.

Inspiring others

Clare Byrne, part of the Curriculum Services team at the college, who signs for Lara, says:

Lara has been a bit of a role model to both staff and students. She is eager to learn and use her knowledge to help others whether that be locally or further away. I’m not sure that the Painting and Decorating team have ever had a student who asks so many questions!  She is extremely motivated and determined and to top it all she has a great sense of humour, it’s an absolute pleasure working with her.”

Inspired by the example set by Lara, staff and students on the Painting and Decorating course are now planning their own fundraising in support of VoluntEars. 

For more information about the work of VoluntEars, and volunteering opportunities with the charity, visit https://www.voluntears.info/.