Mark Hodgson and Daniel Dorney become the first Deaf men to complete the walk from John O’Groats to Land’s End to raise awareness of Mental Health issues facing the Deaf community.
The journey started on 5 June from John O’Groats and has seen the men walk a gruelling 1,200 miles on foot over two months overcoming extreme weather – from torrential rain to some of the hottest days recorded in the UK. Assisted by support driver and friend Chris Potts, the Nottingham and York locals also undertook the walk to raise money in aid of two Deaf organisations: SignHealth and Deaf4Deaf.
Daniel said “We are proud to be the first Deaf men to complete this walk. I wanted to do this because of the physical and mental challenge it would require. Mental Health is an issue needed to be taken more seriously particularly within the Deaf community and I know this from experiencing it first-hand. The most challenging part of this wasn’t always the physical but to maintain that drive and motivation to keep going. Luckily with all the support we were able to push through”
Since starting their journey local Mayors, MPs and many communities have shown support, applauding and embracing them as they go. Members of the Deaf community and the wider general public have also joined them on stretches of their walk, seeing an extremely engaged community grow on social media of over 6,000 people follow their journey and helping treble their fundraising target of £10,000 to over £30,000.
Access to mainstream mental health services for Deaf people is almost non-existent, and yet Deaf people are twice as likely to experience mental health problems than hearing people. Only 27% of Deaf people enter treatment within 6 weeks which is far below the NHS target of 75%.
Mark said: “The process of receiving professional help is lengthy and the waiting times for approvals means Deaf people’s problems worsen which makes recovery harder and longer. Some Deaf people struggle accessing mainstream hearing services using interpreters, preferring to see specialised Deaf counsellors that uses BSL. We strongly believe it is time for change”
Daniel, Mark and Chris raised funds for Deaf mental health organisations Deaf4Deaf and SignHealth who are dedicated to making sure Deaf people get the same access to healthcare as hearing people.
SignHealth: ‘SignHealth is truly honoured to be one of the beneficiaries of the incredible efforts from the two men and their gruelling walk across the country. This is an absolutely amazing achievement and we are very proud of them”.
SignHealth added “There is a mental health crisis facing Deaf people but fundraising to overcome this issue is not the long-term solution. SignHealth is working closely with the NHS to highlight the barriers and we are proud to be working with Shout to offer a free text service to support Deaf People in crisis who need to talk to someone”.
Both, SignHealth and Deaf4Deaf, provide therapy for common mental health problems, directly without the need of interpreters, using their teams of qualified BSL therapists, both deaf and hearing, offering people a choice of therapist and communication style.
Visit the Two Deaf Foot Justgiving page to see a glimpse of the support and how others can also support their fundraising: www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/2deaffoot.