Deaf children and teenagers around the UK can now use sign language to be counselled by Childline in two brand new services.
Launched during Deaf Awareness Week, Childline which is run by the NSPCC, is trialling a service where d/Deaf young people can communicate directly via video chat with counsellors who have been trained in British Sign Language (BSL).
Watch their BSL video here (read on for the rest of the article below):
As well as the pilot the charity has also set-up a permanent service where young people can communicate with a Childline counsellor through SignVideo, the UK’s leading provider of BSL interpreting services.
Research has shown that d/Deaf and disabled children are three times more likely to be abused or neglected than non-deaf and disabled children and are also less likely to receive the protection and support they need when they have been abused.
Since 2009, when Childline launched online counselling, the service has provided 1,477 counselling sessions for d/Deaf children via email and 1-2-1 online chat, with nearly a quarter being about bullying.
However, a d/Deaf young person faces extra barriers when it comes to communicating, and their vocabulary may not always be developed enough to enable them to get the help they need through online counselling.
Therefore, Childline’s new deaf counselling service gives d/Deaf children the option to chat in sign language directly to a counsellor or via an interpreter.
A young person can book a slot to contact one of the six BSL-trained counsellors in advance rather than waiting to be connected. The pilot service is available Wednesday to Friday, 5pm to 9pm.
The SignVideo service that lets d/Deaf children contact a counsellor through a BSL interpreter is available from 9am to 6pm, Monday to Friday.
NSPCC Head of Helplines, John Cameron said:
“By training our counsellors in sign language and providing a BSL interpreting service we are ensuring that deaf children and teenagers now have a number of ways they can communicate with us when in need of support and advice. It also reinforces our commitment to be here for all young people whenever they need our help.”
The pilot service is being trialled by Childline counsellors based in Birmingham but is available to all d/Deaf children living in the UK. It was made possible following a generous donation from the Keith Coombs Trust.
President and founder of Childline, Dame Esther Rantzen said:
“The growth of the online world means the way young people engage with Childline has changed dramatically since we launched back in 1986, and this new service is a further example of how we are always striving to find new ways to help as many young people as possible.
“It is fantastic to see innovative ideas like these being developed, and it is thanks to the dedication and skill of our staff and volunteers that we can turn them into services that will give young people hope and transform their lives.”
Young people can email firstname.lastname@example.org to request time with a Childline counsellor on the days the service is active. They will then receive an email letting them know what time a counsellor will be available and a video link.
If a d/Deaf young person needs to speak to a counsellor outside of the times the service is available, they can talk to Childline via an interpreter. The SignVideo service can be downloaded from the Childline website.
Childline have even created a short film for d/Deaf children which goes into detail about the different types of abuse and demonstrates how to contact Childline through SignVideo or 1-2-1 chat.
For more information, along with videos and advice, visit Childline’s Deaf Zone
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