Our Story:

A New Hope, Cumbria C.I.C was started in June 2021 by our founder Louise Ritson (nee Branch). Louise recognised that there was need for affordable training opportunities in West Cumbria, and especially a need for local BSL training. She started by renting various venues in which to put out Basic BSL classes, then approached The Harrington Youth Club to be able to set up an office and permanent training premises through them. This then enabled A New Hope, Cumbria C.I.C to become an accredited centre for BSL level 1 classes, through Signature.

Alongside the training opportunities that A New Hope, Cumbria C.I.C provides they also have a number of other projects.  The Deaf walking group started in March 2022, the adult BSL Club started in June 2022, the BSL Kids project was trialled in Aug 2023 thanks to funding from Cumbria Youth Alliance, and became an ongoing project in October 2023, the kids craft club started in October 2023 and the new Kids BSL club started in January 2024. These projects are always growing and adapting depending on the needs and requests of the public.

We are now working alongside The Harrington Youth Club to provide Deaf Inclusive Youth Groups. These groups are currently split into 2 age groups and run weekly. The age groups may be split further if numbers increase.

The aim of A New Hope, Cumbria C.I.C is to create a safe, inclusive community for all. We aim to do this through our training, but also through empowering the young people in our community to fulfil their goals and learn new skills.

Meet the Team


Louise Ritson

Louise is the person you will deal with the most at A New Hope. She heads up most of the projects and oversees all of the courses, as well as being one half of our in-house ASIST team, and our resident Youth Worker.

She has 6 years experience in community support and is our Safeguarding lead. She has an honours degree in Psychology, with elements of child development, as well as many other qualifications. She is the face you will see at any and all of our projects, as well as being the driving force behind the scenes.  However she is a firm believer that she could not do any of it without her staff and volunteers.

BSL Teacher


Hazel is a fully qualified BSL teacher as well as being a member of the deaf community. She teaches both our Basic classes and our level 1 classes. She also teaches the children on our BSL project and leads our BSL Clubs. She is the reason we are able to offer the course we do, and is currently the only qualified BSL tutor in West Cumbria.



Martyn currently works for us in a voluntary capacity, helping with much of our admin and tech support. He also volunteers for many of our projects as and when he can, however most of his time is spent fixing the Managers computer issues.

Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) Trainer


Lorna works alongside Louise to provide our ASIST workshops. She is a fully qualified Occupational Therapist who currently works for the NHS. She has 7+ years experience working in the field of mental health and 2+ years experience as an ASIST trainer.

Lorna is also trained in BSL and is one of our walking group leaders.



Tom works as a volunteer for A New Hope. He helps at our BSL classes and many of our one-off projects. Tom is a gentle giant who provides a friendly welcome to clients and is an invaluable member of the team.



Francesca works as a volunteer for A New Hope. She helps at our BSL classes, our children’s projects, and our deaf walking group. Francesca is an amazing woman who recently completed her level 1 in British Sign Language and is always looking to improve her skills



Phoenix works as a volunteer for A New Hope. They are volunteering on many of our BSL courses and our kids projects as a way to improve their skills and gain experience before going to University. Like Tom they are a gentle giant, and all of the kids on our projects adore them.



Jess works as a volunteer for A New Hope. She helps out on various projects as and when she can. You may see her at drop off occasionally on one of our kids projects, or she might be staffing a BSL course. Whatever she is doing she does it with a smile.



Beth works as a volunteer for A New Hope. She is the most invisible of our volunteers as most of her time is spent helping out during office hours doing admin. She is usually found in the office making enquiries, sourcing funders, or ensuring the Manager doesn’t go crazy.