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 Marlene and I grew up in a hearing family. I only remember meeting deaf peers and engaging with the community from when I was 19 years old and at college. I didn’t know any sign language then so had to learn from my new friends. I even remember practising signing in the mirror to learn how to use my face expressions to show meaning! Looking back, when I was pregnant with my first child, there were 7 other mums-to-be in the deaf community at the same time, so we all became close. Since engaging with the deaf community at 19, I’ve been all over the country and I was a fan of one the deaf football teams. This took me to different areas for their matches which meant I got chance to meet lots of different communities. I remember fondly going every year to the Deaf Rally in Blackpool to meet deaf people from all over the UK who gathered to party in the Winter Garden hall.
I started as a bank support worker at a 24-hour care home in Tooting where I was supporting clients with the home. I’ve been in my new role for almost four years, working for the outreach support service, supporting clients in Huron Road. A typical day will start with me coming into the office to check if I have any new emails or if there are any reports to be completed. I’ll then head to see the clients at Huron road. Here I will check they have taken their medication, support them with any letters they’ve received or appointments they have coming up and I take time to chat to them before they go out.
I would describe my core role to be to support the client’s wellbeing. This involves several activities including assisting them to attend the GP, holding housing meetings, encouraging them to take part in activities as well as attending Springfield hospital for regular meetings with their CPN.
When I first started working as a support worker, one client I supported did not like to go out and engage in activities. After trying different things, we got into a conversation about where they were from. As they were from Vietnam, I suggested we try a Vietnamese restaurant. This finally did the trick and they agreed to go out for dinner! Another success has been with a client who’s lived in supported living for 25 years. She has always been reluctant to socialise with peers but now has finally started attending deaf club for the bingo which has been a real success.
There have been many clients who I have supported and seen a real change in their circumstances. For example, one client I supported now goes to volunteer gardening and this made them much more motivated and was rewarding to see. Another client I worked with was quite low and anxious but after many emails to the housing association, we managed to get her the pet she wanted to brighten her day. She’s much happier now as her new cat became a sort of therapy to help her mental health.
I’m proud of my deaf identity and it’s nice to see the community get a bigger profile during Deaf Awareness Week. It’s wonderful to see children able to look up to deaf role models and learning more about sign language.
I think SignHealth has changed for the better over the years and it’s great to see the new head office bringing people together and encouraging team working. I like working for SignHealth as there’s always something new going on.
For information about SignHealth’s residential homes please visit the webpage.