The Charity, Hearing Dogs for Deaf People is now 36 years old. Over this time, they have provided hearing dogs to thousands of deaf people. Currently, they are working with around 950 hearing dog partnerships across the UK and are looking forward to this continuing to grow.
Hearing Dogs for Deaf People professionally train each dog in the behaviours and skills needed to become an assistance dog. They are trained to be a part of the recipient’s everyday life and provide confidence, independence and companionship.
In 2017, Hearing Dogs for Deaf People merged with Hearing Link. Hearing Link provide a range of services. They have a helpdesk which provides information and guidance to help people with their hearing loss. They also offer self-management programmes that help deafened people develop useful strategies and techniques to feel independent and selfconfident with their hearing loss.
Andrew James, who has been the Partnership Operations Manager at Hearing Dogs for Deaf People for the last five years, manages the teams that looks after their clients, including applicants and recipients with their hearing dog. They work with people at their training centres, in recipients homes, in local communities and at community functions they hold around the country
Andrew explained that, “With a goal of creating 200 new working partnerships a year by the year 2020, it is an exciting time in the Charity which is focused on using the kind and generous support we receive to directly help as many deaf people as possible”.
Andrew continued, “We recently introduced a different type of hearing dog, recognising that a jacketed hearing dog may not be the best fit for everyone’s needs. Many could benefit from a wonderful companion in the home who can also alert them to some sounds such as the smoke alarm or a baby monitor. For this reason we introduced our Sound Support Dog’s and the feedback has been fantastic”.
terptree have been privileged to have been working with Hearing Dogs for Deaf People since 2010 and Andrew explained how that relationship has grown over the years.
“Wth our Charity growing quickly, we need efficien solutions for our organisation’s needs. In order to provide the best service we can, we use a variety of communication support including BSL interpreters, Speech to Text Reporters and Lipspeakers. Hearing Dogs staff are trained in BSL however we use communication support for our partnership visits that include sensitive or complex information and the highest quality communication support is vital. We also have communication support at fundraising and our community events. A fragmented approach in who provides our communication support would have been time consuming and fragmented, so we needed a supplier that would give us everything in one place”.
When choosing their supplier, Andrew explained that Hearing Dogs for Deaf People have strong family values and terptree stood out for because they share those values. He said, “We wanted to work with an agency that operates on a personal level, where we could build a relationship with the staff and work together to meet the needs of deaf people – basically we didn’t want a call centre”. “What we realised with Victoria Williams (Founder of terptree) is that she is passionate and cares about the deaf community. Because of this, she has built a team of personable staff who understand our needs. terptree are a professional organisation, who maintain a family feel. Having one telephone number to contact to meet all of our needs is one of the benefits of working with terptree”.
He said “I am also appreciative that the team at terptree will drop everything to help at short notice. Victoria herself has even come out to us the same day to provide communication support. Our relationship with terptree is such that we have regular meetings to share insights and discuss current and future needs”.
Andrew said that he would advise anyone who is thinking of working with terptree “to first of all, try their service for themselves and thereafter, take the time to invest in the relationship with them. Sharing of information and your organisational needs in advance helps them deliver exactly what you’re looking for. Making this investment early on will pay off in the long run. I also recommend meeting the interpreters and getting to know them – terptree carry out the checks necessary to make sure that the interpreters are fully qualified and suitable for the support they are providing, so you will find them all professional and friendly”.
When asked if he would recommend terptree, Andrew gave a resounding “Yes I would, and do. As a Charity, it is important we make sure our funds are being used carefully and wisely and I have never felt the need to move our business away from terptree. They always meet our needs”.
Andrew concluded “The main reason I recommend terptree, is their ‘why’. Most businesses have commercial answers to the questions of ‘why’ they exist and ‘why’ they do what they do. terptree’s answers are deeply personal and their passion and dedication to helping deaf people is clearly seen in their actions. We have developed trust and understanding and for these reasons we foresee working with terptree for the long-term future”.