Deaf Drop In
Public or private sector organisations do not always have facilities or the awareness to adequately accommodate the Deaf. Therefore people can be obstructed from getting what they need or what they are entitled to. People living with a hearing impairment can be prevented from accessing every day services and communicating with these services in their daily lives.
Community and voluntary services who traditionally supported people with face to face advice and support were closing or becoming increasingly stretched by limited resources and increasing demand. They were not always able or willing to provide the specialist support or interpreters to support the Deaf or offer regular timely support.
Statutory services, like our Sensory Team were then being called upon to assess and fund support for individuals with communication needs. However, this is not always or necessarily the best or most efficient way to support customers. Nor is there necessarily the specialist resource in the community to always provide this level of support.
Sandra the Senior Practitioner (Deaf and Hard of Hearing) witnessed this increasing need through her daily work. Also she has very close links with Newham’s Deaf forum. Residents attending this forum were frequently highlighting the increasing difficulties in the Deaf accessing services that they are entitled to.
Sandra was seeing an increase in referrals to Enabled Living’s Sensory service to assess customers who were finding communicating with universal services problematic.
The Sensory Team needed to find a cost effective way to support their Deaf customers so they could be resilient and deal with there everyday issues in a proportionate and effective way.
Sandra through her in-depth knowledge of Newham and her links with other specialist workers across London looked at what other Sensory services were offering. She spoke to numerous colleagues, both Sensory specialists and interpreters. Sandra looked at how other boroughs offered a Deaf Drop In service, whilst considering what would meet the needs of Newham residents.
Sandra felt it was key to ensure that she was setting up an offer that would enable and empower people to communicate and make decisions that were right for them. So it was essential to make sure the remit of the Newham’s Deaf Drop In was clear from the outset. The Deaf Drop In was not there to ‘do for’ but for the customer to; lead their appointment, the flow of communication and the subsequent decision-making process.
The Deaf Drop In was launched in 2014 running fortnightly. However, due to high demand this was increased to weekly, running every Tuesday morning at Enabled Living In Chargeable Lane.
Since the launch Sandra has made additional links with the British Deaf Association and now they also offer an advocate service to help customers who need an advocate which also runs from Chargeable Lane every Thursday morning. This is a partnership that is really effective for the Deaf as the Deaf Drop In can refer on seamlessly if the need for more support and advocacy is identified.
Since 2014 we have increased the capacity to assist in over 400 enquiries per year. Helping residents resolve crucial issues relating to housing, health matters, benefits and essential household services amongst many other enquires. Preventing potential crisis situations and empowering people to maintain choice and control over their lives.
Also, this service has helped us identify the organisations out there who may be discriminating against the Deaf community and this is a route to highlight this and take appropriate action.
Some of the customers of Deaf Drop In have reported: