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Innovative BSL collaboration is national first

28 October 2013

Press Office

UCLan partners with charity SignHealth to improve services for Deaf British Sign Language Users (BSL)

The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan)’s School of Health has partnered with Deaf charity SignHealth in an exciting move which will boost growth for the charity and improve mental health services for deaf people in the North West whose first or preferred language is BSL.

The collaboration is one of around 1,000 Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP) in the UK, a part government-funded programme to encourage joint-working between universities and businesses.

The partnership was successfully confirmed last month with the recruitment of a high calibre associate, Celia Hulme, from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan)’s School of Health. Celia, who – it is believed - is the first ever Deaf person to assume the position of KTP associate, will play a key role in identifying business development opportunities for SignHealth and building the charity’s profile as the leader of specialist psychological therapy.

The partnership was formed with the ultimate aim of improving access to and quality of health and social services for Deaf people suffering from mild to moderate health issues. One of the key drivers for this will be the development of SignHealth’s BSL Healthy Minds programme, Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT), a service delivered in British Sign Language for Deaf people who suffer from depression or anxiety.

“We are delighted to be working with SignHealth and we hope the project will improve access to specialist psychological services for the Deaf community in the North West and to safeguard the future of this vital service.”

SignHealth is currently the only service in England to provide psychological therapy in sign language without the use of an interpreter, making it a vital resource amongst the Deaf population, where the prevalence of common mental health problems is higher than average which is 40% of the Deaf population compared to 25% of the hearing population.

Commenting on the partnership, Celia Hulme from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan)’s School of Health said:

“This is the first time UCLan has partnered with a Deaf charity for a Knowledge Transfer Partnership. “We are delighted to be working with SignHealth and we hope the project will improve access to specialist psychological services for the Deaf community in the North West and to safeguard the future of this vital service.”

Hazel Flynn, SignHealth Clinical Management Lead, said:

“We are excited about the opportunities to develop our services across the North West region that this partnership offers. If we can really drive access to our BSL Healthy Minds programme locally then this will lead to opportunities to replicate the programme at a national level, thereby further improving access to psychological therapies for Deaf people in England.”