When we describe SignHealth as ‘the Deaf health charity’, we mean exactly that. We are a unique Deaf-led organisation, here to improve Deaf people’s health and wellbeing. Our strategic focus is on people like us who use British Sign Language (BSL): this is where our expertise lies, and where we feel we are best able to help. Services we provide include psychological therapy, domestic abuse support and social care services, all delivered by Deaf people to Deaf people directly in BSL. We are one of the UK’s largest employers of Deaf people, and almost all our hearing colleagues in our projects and services are also fluent sign language users.
We’re proud of all of our work, but we want to make special mention of our pandemic response. The current emergency compounded Deaf people’s unequal access to healthcare for a range of reasons. For example, because we have not had equal access to vital public health information, we are at a higher risk of catching and spreading COVID-19. We can’t read the lips or facial expressions of those wearing face coverings, which means NHS staff cannot communicate effectively with us. And to make things worse, many services and support networks are also inaccessible. So SignHealth’s response has been profoundly practical and targeted. For example, we provide a BSL summary of every Downing Street briefing, which are viewed by thousands; we translate government resources into BSL; and we have provided an emergency COVID video relay interpreting service (called BSL Health Access) that’s enabled over 25,000 conversations in the last 10 months.
2021 offers two huge opportunities. First, the Census: with a current and detailed picture of the Deaf population in the UK, we can embark on a new phase of evidence-based service planning and delivery, working with Deaf people to increase our reach and effectiveness. Second, our cycle of Board renewal means we are able to appoint two fantastic new Trustees who will bring their talents, professional insight and personal perspective to our governance. Either one of these events is a big deal; together, we believe they will represent a transformative point in our journey.
We want new, challenging world-views on our Board, so we are encouraging applications from those who may never have considered becoming a charity trustee before. Lived experience of being a Deaf person, including proficiency in BSL, is hugely valuable, as is your professional perspective (probably, though not necessarily, gained in a sector which aligns or overlaps with ours). And in a year where the Black Lives Matter movement has changed conversations across the globe for ever, we have begun to embrace the profound and urgent necessity of addressing the health inequality of Deaf people who are Black, Asian or from a minoritised ethnic community. Outdated vocabulary and structural assumptions about ethnic minorities still persist in sign language, as well as across many parts of the health system, and we are determined that SignHealth will play a leading role in tackling these issues once and for all. As a consequence, we are particularly interested in expressions of interest from people who have experienced race discrimination.
How to apply
If this is work you want to help with, please click the 'Apply for this job now' button, you will find candidate information in BSL as well as written English.
Alternatively you can contact Shani Newbold or Philip Nelson at Cadence Partners on +44 020 7947 4960 or by emailing them. A video relay interpreter service is available to support communication for an informal discussion if required. We positively welcome applications from Deaf people who meet the criteria set out in the Person Specification.
Closing date: Tuesday 4 May 2021.