Lynn Shannon, SignHealth’s DeafHope Manager, explains our service and the life changing effect it has on Deaf women who have been abused.
“Deaf Hope has been established since 2010/11 and has been evolving to provide a range of services to Deaf women and girls who are experiencing or have experienced domestic abuse.
We have recently completed a series of 6 week survivor workshops that enable Deaf survivors to understand more about perpetrator behaviour and the issues around domestic abuse, including the impact that witnessing abuse can have on their children, regardless of whether their children are Deaf or hearing.
The number of clients we are working with has grown considerably over the last 12 months.
The activities in the workshops enable survivors to improve confidence and assertiveness, and how to develop stronger boundaries to protect themselves and their children.
We continue to deliver a range of workshops to sensory teams, student nurses/midwives, domestic abuse services and refuge staff. Similar workshops are also delivered to Deaf community groups.
Students aged aged between 11 and 19 have been participating under the PHSE curriculum and also during Anti Bullying Week.
This is a great step forward.
The workshops have enabled young people to have a greater understanding of healthy and unhealthy relationships, the impact of bullying, cyber safety and the issues around sexting. The feedback from the students has been really positive and have their views have helped us to develop a range of accessible materials, including signed dvds. We are now busy planning a conference which will highlight the challenges the Young Deaf Hope project has identified and our recommendations for the way forward. We will be inviting some of the young people involved in the project to join us.
Although Deaf Hope focuses on supporting Deaf women and girls to stay free from fear and harm, we are also focussing on early intervention work, in line with Government policy, to support families to stay together, but importantly to stay safe.
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There is still a long way to go to develop DeafHope as a national service, however, as with many of the mainstream domestic abuse services, budget cuts will impact on development plans. Changes to government policy, how domestic abuse is funded and ATW changes will also impact our service and our team.
Despite all of these hurdles we will continue to provide support to Deaf women and girls.”
Image Credit: Lee Haywood