This blog post has been written in support of Deaf Awareness Week 2019: Celebrating Role Models. You can find out more about Deaf Awareness Week and read blog posts by our other role models here.
My name is Jason Potter-Laroy and I was brought up in London and grew up in a deaf family. Growing up I went to a deaf school and got the chance to use BSL at school with friends which was great. Within the deaf community, I have been the chairperson for Luton Deaf Club and have also volunteered with NDCS teaching parents of deaf children how to sign.
I am the team leader for SignHealth’s London Outreach service. This involves supporting our staff members in their roles as well as ensuring the wellbeing of our clients in the community. I keep up with the news daily so when I visit clients it allows me an opportunity to share this with them and talk about current affairs. It also allows me to communicate in BSL about what’s happening in the world. I support clients with their communication and social skills so this could be supporting them to access the community by attending a deaf club. Our aim is to try and prevent clients from feeling isolated by supporting them to get out and about and to live independently.
My manager and I work together to ensure the service runs safely and effectively. It’s my responsibility to assess new clients and then to ensure we’re providing support that meets their needs. To help achieve this I create a support plan from the information in the assessment and I must ensure this is an easy read and visual so clients can understand what support they’ll receive. I’ll also attend review meetings as well as meetings with psychologists and other mental health professionals. Additionally, I’m responsible for supervising our support workers as well as training them where needed.
One challenge faced by me and other deaf people is the lack of access to BSL interpreters particularly in hospitals and GP’s. By continuing to fight for access for BSL users over the years, there is now better access to interpreters for medical appointments. Another challenge within work has been in client review meetings. Interpreters will be provided for these meetings but often the clients we work with need more explanation during the meetings to be able to follow what is being said. I have learnt over the years, the way to overcome this is for me to explain what has been said to allow the client to access this and express themselves. I’ve found this incredibly rewarding being able to make a real difference with client’s engagement.
I think Deaf Awareness Week is crucial to ensure the public understand BSL is an official language and different to English. It’s also important to ensure people feel more comfortable in engaging with deaf people and not frightened to try communicating with them.
I feel proud to work at SignHealth and being a part of the work, it does. The staff here all work together and support each other, and it means I feel valued for my contributions. Looking back to all the knowledge I’ve gained, all the people I’ve had chance to work with and the experiences I’ve had have been so valuable.
For information about SignHealth domestic abuse service please visit the Outreach webpage.