We are pleased to announce that SignHealth has successfully been awarded funding from the Home Office’s Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) Support and Specialist Fund to expand our vital Domestic Abuse Service to other regions in England.
This funding will expand our service for the next two years, including 14 new staff to join our team. We will provide specialist and culturally appropriate Independent Domestic and Sexual Violence Advisors (IDSVAs) and Domestic Abuse Navigators (DANs). Our team will also provide support for Deaf victims of sexual violence. In addition, we are looking forward to working with local organisations to provide support across England.
We know that:
- Deaf women suffer twice the level, and Deaf children three times, of domestic violence as our hearing peers (British Crime Survey, 2010).
- Hearing services usually lack Deaf awareness, British Sign Language (BSL) interpreting budgets or specialist equipment.
- Most domestic abuse services are not equipped to support Deaf people, at best they will use BSL interpreters, but we know that this is not as effective as support from someone with lived experience of deafness and who can communicate directly in BSL.
- Some refuges refuse to accept Deaf women escaping violence, citing health and safety in accommodating their access requirements.
- Deaf survivors face barriers accessing housing, domestic abuse support, in the criminal justice system, health services, finance and support with family. These result in delays for Deaf people in crisis.
- 64% of the Deaf women we supported in London were in a relationship with a Deaf perpetrator, exacerbating social isolation in their own community. The most valuable part of their recovery is knowing that we have supported other Deaf survivors.
SignHealth has more than 12 years of experience delivering Deaf domestic abuse services. Our service is delivered entirely by a professional team of trained Deaf staff. Working in BSL makes our team extremely cost effective in terms of reducing interpreter costs for day-to-day delivery.
Our vision is to see all Deaf survivors empowered, protected and able to benefit from communication support that meets their needs.
“Our experience shows that it is essential that Deaf survivors of Domestic Abuse receive local specialist support in their home area in addition to mainstream provision. It is vital that Deaf BSL users have the option to communicate in their first language with specialist staff who have lived experience.
We are grateful that the Home Office has awarded us this incredible opportunity to create greater impact for the Deaf community.”Marie Vickers, Head of Domestic Abuse Service at SignHealth