Jamie Stonier has taken his free sign language sessions to a whole new level using the power of social media.
The 32-year-old had regularly hosted workshops in the community to teach British Sign Language, but once coronavirus hit and the lockdown was introduced, Jamie turned to Facebook to host his lessons.
“I usually hold lessons at St John Church, in Burslem and I have done some online sign language videos before. But after the coronavirus struck I started to do actual online lessons after joining the group – Help! I’m Now Homeschooling,” said Jamie, who is from Stoke-on-Trent.
“People’s daily lives have changed and I wanted to help where I could whilst the lockdown is in place. I wanted to try and give people something to do and the response has been incredible. I’ve been asked to continue online teaching after the lockdown and that is something I will definitely continue to do.
“Also I had a nurse contact me as she wanted me to help teach her and others for a song they are doing for NHS, which I can proudly say I’ve helped and taught them sign language which they will be using in a video on social media.”
Jamie’s online sessions take place every day from Monday to Friday, starting at 4pm via – Help! I’m Homeschooling, which was initially set up as a group on 18 March 2020, and has grown to have 5,415 members.
Carly Twigg, of Stoke-on-Trent and founder of – Help! I’m Now Homeschooling! – said: “When I set the group up I hoped we might grow to a community of about 100 people by say September, but In just under 3 weeks we’ve already grown to nearly 5,500 members and we have now created the page so people can contact us directly.
“We’ve encouraged people to share their skills, support others who are struggling and work together on fun and engaging activities. Within the first 24 hours of the group’s existence Jay offered to teach BSL for anyone who was interested. I suggested we could perhaps offer this as a sign a day, that way it breaks it up and makes it manageable for people and Jays posts have been fantastic – he is awesome and inspiring in every way. Our community have really got behind him.”
Jamie, who was born deaf, added: “I think it’s very important to learn sign language. It’s my passion to help people as I struggled to communicate with people when I was younger and I want to break the communication barriers in shops, companies and family homes too.”
Carly also went on to tell us that due to the popularity of the Help! I’m Homeschooling, future plans have been put in place to ensure it continues to grow.
She said: “In order to better support the group we added the page so people can now message us directly and we already have our first affiliate company wanting to offer online sessions to support parents and teachers through this time.
“This will start with an #askusanything session with Hayley Lamb from Positive Ewe. Chris Cohen from FeastEd has also been awesome and is a firm favourite with our members.”
The Help! – I’m Now Homeschooling! Facebook page can be found here.