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Lip-reading friendly face covering wins our competition and exciting exhibition is announced...

Our competition encouraging young people to create a face covering has been won by a design that allows deaf people to lip read. Face coverings have become an unavoidable fact of life to help prevent the spread of Covid-19. They have been compulsory on public transport since June 15 and from July 24 will be required upon entering shops.  Lily Chapman’s winning entry in Southend YMCA’s Face It competition was chosen by a judging panel including historian and TV presenter, Amber Butchart. Amber said: “I really liked the idea of lip reading that Lily incorporated, it was cheerful and inclusive, so has an incredibly positive message.”

Southend YMCA has now teamed up with the National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS) to raise awareness of the #keepitclear campaign, which advocates the widespread use of clear panels in face coverings to allow deaf people to lip read. Up to 11 million people in the UK are deaf or hard of hearing and rely on reading lips and facial expressions to communicate.

The NDCS and other UK deaf charities are encouraging people to make their own face mask with clear panels and send one to their local MP.  They want the Government to manufacture clear face coverings for the NHS and adapt guidelines for the general public to highlight the struggles deaf people face in communicating when mouths are covered. You can find out more about the #keepitclear campaign and a guide to making your own clear face covering at

Southend YMCA is showcasing all the entries in an online exhibition which will run throughout August and can be found at

Competition winner Lily, aged 11, from Southend said: “This is a design for people with hearing difficulties … so that the person can see how the mouth is moving to enable them to understand what is being said.”

Lily received a £100 Love2shop vouchers and saw her winning face covering become reality. Local textile designer Patrick Moriarty of Paisley Power created the bespoke printed fabric of Lily’s design, which was then made into the finished face covering with a clear window around the mouth area.

Syrie Cox, CEO of Southend YMCA said: "The forthcoming exhibition captures young people’s concerns, passions and ideas - all with the aim of positively influencing their world. Lily’s thoughtful and practical winning design raises important issues relating to face coverings, deafness and lip-reading." 

The Face It competition was the brainchild of Lydia Kovacs, who has worked on music videos with stars such as Katy Perry and Little Mix and is currently volunteering with Southend YMCA.

Lydia said: “it was a very interesting design and it’s not something that a lot of people are doing … there are only a few people making those particular coverings”.

The competition was run as part of Find Your Voice (FYV),  a wider initiative by Southend YMCA open to young people between the ages of 10 and 24-years-old.

FYV aims to provide young people with the platform they need to have their voices heard and develop practical skills that empower them to take a pro-active role and inspire positive change.

FYV is funded by the National Lottery Community Fund and runs online and on social media platforms. Along with listening to concerns and aspirations, the project has been structured to provide young people with the skills and resources they need to make a real difference to their community.

The project can be found on Facebook and Instagram and online at Use the ‘sign up’ button to express an interest. Alternatively, email

The Southend YMCA is an outstanding local charity supporting young people and the community of Southend and surrounding areas. It delivers many exciting and innovative projects and initiatives, to find out more go to

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