How our heroic Access Team helps deaf refugees
Care4Calais Access Team volunteers are all heroes, and always determined to overcome every challenge they face to ensure refugees get treated fairly in the UK. It takes pretty special people to help on this team, and we work hard to find them.
Our volunteer Jo, for example, recently met Fahad and Ahmed, two deaf refugees from Kuwait and Iran respectively. Neither can read or write well – Fahad communicates with sign language and Ahmed lip reads. It had been incredibly difficult for them as refugees in the UK, because it’s hard to tell the authorities about their experiences
When Jo met them, they had actually been in the UK for about a year, but they hadn’t been able to find lawyers. Jo found it hard to communicate with the two guys at first, and calls that would usually take ten minutes took an hour.
But Jo, like the whole team, is determined to help people who need it. She found a British sign language interpreter to translate between English and signs, plus a deaf relay interpreter to translate Arabic sign language into spoken Arabic, and Care4Calais agreed to help with the costs of the interpretations.
Then we helped them find lawyers, and now they have meetings with a relay interpreter who Care4Calais found and partly paid for, and they’re on their way to getting a fair hearing.
“We’ve come a long way from those difficult early days when they seemed so disheartened by their experience and we all found it hard to communicate,” Jo says. “The two guys are much more upbeat and optimistic. As Fahad told us, ‘everything changes when you know someone is listening to you.’”
The Access Team is one of the most important parts of Care4Calais, and due to the training and support required we can only take volunteers who can make a significant time commitment. If you you’d like to get involved with this amazing team, please email [email protected] for an application form.
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