With support from the Labour MP for Manchester Withington, Jeff Smith, the initiative was presented today to a crowd from the music and creative industries.
The Listen for Life campaign will collaborate with the industry, promoting the importance of hearing testing, developing training, raising awareness on the impact of hearing loss, and introducing effective methods to protect hearing, especially in the environment of music.
With additional guidance from Specsavers and the World Health Organisation (WHO), the campaign is hoping to support everyday people, especially within the music sector, such as bar staff, performers, security personnel, and crew members.
According to WHO, 1.1 billion young people are at risk of permanent hearing loss due to unsafe listening practices when enjoying recreational sounds such as music.
A report released by the Commission on Hearing Loss in 2014 showed that the cost of hearing loss to the UK economy was £24.8 billion, which is set to rise to £38.6 billion by 2031.
The campaign also shared information on the connection between hearing loss and mental health, as it can cause depression and according to the NTIA’s findings, and also increase the risk of dementia.
In the UK, hearing loss has become the biggest “modifiable factor” of dementia with mild hearing loss doubling your risk to the illness, moderate hearing loss trebles it, and severe hearing loss mean that people are five times more likely to suffer from dementia.
Speaking with Mixmag, Labour MP Jeff Smith told us about his previous career as a DJ. He shared: “I think I’m the only MP in parliament who used to be a full-time pro DJ. I was never a superstar DJ sadly. I made a living doing it in nightclubs and universities around Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool and all around the North. I played all kinds of stuff; house music and indie dance stuff being from Manchester. I loved it but just got too old so thought 'what am I going to do now?' And then I became an MP.”
Smith continued: “When I was a DJ I spent a lot of time in nightclubs with my ears pressed up against speakers. But nobody spoke about hearing loss in those days. Some of my colleagues that were DJs and worked in the music industry ended up with tinnitus or hearing loss and so I think it's really important that this campaign is there to make people informed and get their hearing checked out. I think its a really great initiative.”
Michael Kill, CEO Night Time Industries Association, says: “I truly did not understand the devastating impact that hearing loss has had on our industry prior to engaging in this campaign. I have spoken to hundreds of artists and DJs who have suffered for years with this debilitating issue. People have ended their careers because of this, so it is important to increase awareness and champion the future of hearing health for people coming into our industry, or just enjoying culture.”
Becky Buckle is Mixmag's Multimedia Editor, follow her on Twitter