Making Thornbury Makaton-friendly

October 04 2019
Making Thornbury Makaton-friendly

A PROJECT to make Thornbury the region's first Makaton Friendly town is signing up recruits for training.

Makaton is a language programme which uses symbols, signs and speech to enable people to communicate. It is different to British Sign Language, which is a language in its own right.

Businesses and groups which commit to using the language can go on to register with the national Makaton Charity and if enough do so, Thornbury could gain official Makaton Friendly status.

Six organisations have signed up to a Makaton training course organised by Thornbury Welcomes, a community interest company which was set up to help new residents to the town and support people with additional needs.

Project coordinator Michelle Galliott said: “We have an unusually large group of Makaton users in the town so it would be good if the rest of us could 'talk' with them in a way that they understand and make them feel more welcome in the community.

"We have about 20 groups and businesses, and of course the schools, that use Makaton daily all expressing an interest in taking part.”

The six organisations to sign up for training are Milbury’s, the Swan, 4th Thornbury Brownies, Oxfam, the Anchor Inn and the Thornbury Volunteer Centre.

Three organisations are already accredited with the national Makaton Charity: Christ the King Pre-school, Moo Music and Little Pandas childminders. Now that they are registered, they receive a certificate and a window sticker to display, and they are listed on a map on the Makaton Charity's website.

Training takes place on October 22 and there will be more sessions to come.

The trainer is Nicola Pike, who works for the Makaton Charity. Her son is dependent on Makaton to communicate.

Nicola said: “To think that my son was valued enough by the local community that efforts were made to use his primary source of communication in businesses and organisations would mean everything to me.

It’s so important for anyone with a communication difficulty to be able to access all the lovely things Thornbury has to offer that speaking people take for granted. I’m very encouraged by those organisations who have already signed up and are making a difference. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.”

Anyone interested in training should contact Thornbury Welcomes by email at


Picture: Thornbury Makaton coordinator Michelle Galliott with Thornbury Welcomes directors Ian Walker and David Fordham