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.
The Domestic Abuse team is a mixture of service manager, senior IDVA (Independent Domestic Violence Adviser), 3 IDVAs, outreach workers, 3 prevention officers, children and families workers and admin coordinators. We’re such a diverse group, we are a completely women led team and predominantly a Deaf lead team, we have an hearing administrator, who is fluent in BSL.
Our typical working day is extremely varied, the Service Manager and Senior IDVA are responsible for receiving referrals and contacting women at risk to offer support, they would then allocate the right support, which is where the IDVAs and outreach workers would go out and meet the clients and offer support, making sure that the risk of harm is reduced.
Our Young Deaf Hope team focuses on providing workshops at schools, colleges, drop in centres and many other places to raise awareness for young Deaf people about cyber bullying, sexting, grooming and many other topics.
Our Children and Families workers focus on support Deaf mothers and their children to have a healthy relationship, working with social services and any relevant departments.
Every day is completely different for all of our staff members – day to day our staff members could be at court, a conference, a training course, at the police station, at a social services meeting, at a school providing training the list goes on and on!
The biggest challenge we face on a daily basis is barriers due to communication. There have been countless occasion where an interpreter hasn’t been booked for a police interview or court case which has in turn resulted in our staff having to reassure the client. When a client has been suffering with domestic abuse, they sometimes need to go to a ‘refuge’ as they are not safe at home, we have had many cases where a refuge will refuse to accept a deaf women, because they don’t know how to communicate with them. This is by far the biggest challenge we face, until awareness is raised our clients suffer in the system.
Seeing our clients leave an abusive relationship with our support is the biggest highlight for us. We’ve received cards and presents thanking us for our support in helping our clients through such a difficult time. We have also been rewarded for our service from The Charity Of The Year awards and The Emma Humphreys memorial prize, we have also been nominated for National Diversity Awards this month (please vote for us!), which means people are becoming more and more aware of how important our role is within the Domestic Abuse sector.
We fight daily for Deaf awareness in the domestic abuse sector, there needs to be more awareness in order for Deaf women who have experienced domestic abuse to feel more supported and heard. Deaf Awareness week is a great way for organisations to provide training!
We are very proud to be a part of Sign Health’s mission to become a national service. We are part of a diverse, deaf led organisation who is passionate about improving mental health services for Deaf people.
For information about SignHealth domestic abuse service please visit the DeafHope webpage.