Jessie's Story - Escaping abuse and finding hope
Jessie was young, alone and needed support and advice to gain safety and confidence
You can refer a Deaf person to SignHealth’s Domestic Abuse Service by downloading and completing this form.
SignHealth has BSL videos related to domestic abuse topics, advice and you can find details for who to contact for support.
Our domestic abuse service (previously known as DeafHope) is a unique, Deaf-led service for Deaf people who have or are experiencing domestic abuse. The service is the first and only one of its kind in the UK.
Our team of Deaf Independent Domestic Violence Advisors (IDVAs) and Young People’s Violence Advisors (YPVAs) help bring Deaf people and their children to safety and empower them to build new lives free of fear.
We currently work in London and the South East and remote support across England, and we are looking to expand our services further.
From the initial contact, our team creates a support plan and develops coping strategies until the client feels ready to move on with their life independently. Throughout this process, we ensure our clients are able to navigate statutory services such as immigration, the police and courts, housing, and social services.
There is a huge gap in service provision for young Deaf people, so we built a programme to provide support and prevention work for young Deaf people who are experiencing or witnessing domestic abuse.
As with our main domestic abuse service, our experienced staff are Deaf professionals, IDVAs and YPVAs, who are trained to work with young people using a variety of communication methods, predominantly British Sign Language. Communicating in British Sign Language means we are able to offer Deaf people the support and advice they need in a language they use and that we share with them.
Deaf women are at twice the risk of being abused and getting support is more difficult.– Marie Vickers, Service Manager
Marie tells the story
SignHealth has achieved considerable recognition within the domestic abuse sector, winning CAF and Civil Society’s Disability Charity of the Year in 2014. The judges described SignHealth’s Domestic Abuse Service as a “truly inspiring example of excellence and outstanding work”.
The project was also awarded the Emma Humphreys Memorial Prize in 2012 – an award which marks the outstanding contribution of an organisation whose work has resulted in developments that combat the prevalence of violence against women.
As well as providing a much better experience for Deaf people, SignHealth’s Domestic Abuse Service provides excellent financial value. Other services would need to provide Deaf awareness training to workers and to find, and pay for, interpreters for each meeting with Deaf clients. Because we are a team of Deaf professionals, these costs are not necessary.
Domestic abuse can have severe short and long-term impacts on a survivor’s health. Deaf people are more at risk than our hearing peers to experience abuse and barriers to getting the information and help needed to stay safe.
At SignHealth, we are working towards a future where Deaf people can lead safe, healthy lives, with the same opportunities to meet their full potential.
Sick Of It is SignHealth’s ground-breaking report uncovering the health disparity Deaf people face in the UK. Published in 2014, the report has influenced policy and changed practices in the NHS to improve communication and reduce barriers.Report: Sick Of It