Sabina is delighted to welcome our new Ambassadors – Dr Joanna Downes, our Double Awards winner of Deaf Parenting UK Awards 2011; Clive Boswell, Civil Servant of Foreign Commonwealth Office and one of our DPUK Judge; and Asif Iqbal MBE who is stepping down from his current role as Project Manager of Deaf Parenting UK for the last 5years.
Sabina explained: “It is good to have them on board as each one of them have wealth of experiences, knowledge and skills to offer to Deaf Parenting UK and we look forward to working with them on our projects”.
Dr. Joanna Downes
Joanna’s interest in parenting issues started when she commenced her doctorate research into deaf children and attachment. She met deaf parents who had been faced with negative attitudes from professionals when they tried to access services for their children. This started her work in trying to raise and promote the awareness and needs of making mainstream services accessible to both deaf children and deaf adults.
Joanna has a strong interested in enabling deaf people to access mental health services and making sure that professionals do not use deaf parents’ children as interpreters. This led to Joanna producing guidelines for the NHS to follow in both primary care on how to work with and book BSL interpreters.
In 2009, after Joanna completed her doctorate, she went onto become Manager of the Deaf parenting Programme at Action Deafness with funding from the Parenting Fund. This programme identified the many gaps in services and information for Deaf parents.
One gap was the awareness of midwives where deaf parents had repeatedly informed Joanna that they had received poor services. This led to collaboration with DeMontfort University in delivering the first CPD course for midwives to understand in depth the psychological, social and mental health issues deaf parents and children may experience.
Joanna went on to win two awards at the first Deaf Parenting UK Awards event in October 2011 and the DeMontfort University also won an award for the course she wrote.
Joanna is now a freelance consultant and researcher, so she can spend more time with her two young children, who both communicate bilingually in English and BSL.
She says “It is excellent that there is an organisation aims to break down barriers for deaf parents because many deaf parents put up with sub-standard services and appalling attitudes. As an ambassador, I will try to promote awareness and remind professionals and the public of their duty to make sure Deaf parents get equal treatment, because it is their right.”
“I am truly honoured to have been asked to become an Ambassador for Deaf Parenting UK. I believe that being deaf (since birth and connexion 26) I face challenges and prejudice every day of my life. I hope this has resulted in my becoming more resilient for the remainder of my life! I also hope this experience will enable us to provide support/knowledge/wisdom and emotionally to our children; even though they are hearing; having deaf parents will no doubt give them challenges of their own.
I fully support the aims and objectives of Deaf Parenting UK and hope to be able to contribute positively.”
Asif Iqbal MBE
Asif is well-known as effective networker and campaigner throughout his career. In 2005, he worked at Parentline Plus for two years as a Project Manager and one of his role was to develop and manage four pilot projects from scratch on national level in partnership with organisations who works with excluded communities. The project went through the development stage including piloting with view of rolling out a franchising model of services, this provided key opportunities to train and recruit Trainers from the excluded communities who are parents themselves, to provide the Parents Together courses. This had in turn support parents (from the excluded communities) with their parenting skills at home, to improve their parental engagement with their children, thus lead to their improved learning & social outcomes.
Since Oct 2007, he worked as Media/Project Manager for Deaf Parenting UK. Asif ‘s role also involved in networking with high profile people which result in securing an excellent range of Ambassadors for Deaf Parenting UK. He was also responsible for organising annual national conferences, working in partnership with organiser of The Baby Shows to provide access for Deaf parents / visitors who comes to The Baby Shows, dealing with press releases/ media enquiries and liaising with celebrities, Ambassadors, working partnership with other organisations and Trustees as well as managing staff/ volunteers.
In addition to the last 3 Annual conferences which Asif organised, he also organised the first ever Deaf Parenting UK Awards event that took place in central London in October 2011. It was momentum event as it was seen as a first ever Awards for Deaf parents and professionals working with Deaf parents in history and it was a great success. Working behind the scene of each conference and Awards event, he managed to secure massive of media coverage for Deaf Parenting UK and raising DPUK’s profile across the UK and worldwide.
Not only it stopped there, he managed to secure Deaf Parenting UK as Winner of TFPL’s first Social Impact Award 2008, Berlin, Germany, voted by the world business leaders for charity/third sector on innovative use of knowledge and information management. He also secured Deaf Parenting UK as one of the 30 winners for Talk Talk Innovation Award 2008 and as Runner up the Guardian’s Public Services Award 2008 for Equality & Diversity category.
In his spare times and between jobs, he is also Public Appointment Ambassador for Cabinet Office and Government Equalities Office; Board Member of DPTAC (Disabled Person Transport Advisory Committee) for Department of Transport; and Board Member of the British Disability Panel for British Council; and finally a President of Harrow Asian Deaf Club.
In the past he was former Board members of DEAC (Disability Employment Advisory Committee) for Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and Former Board Member of Royal Association of Disability and Rights (RADAR).
In recognition of his work and services to Deaf and disabled people, he was named to receive MBE on Queen’s Birthday Honour list in June 2011 and was later awarded with MBE by Prince of Wales at Buckingham Palace.
Asif said: “I feel honoured to become a Ambassador of this charity, I am passionate and supportive of this charity as I am a strong believer of empowerment, enabling and supporting Deaf parents who wish to achieve the best for their children. I also hope to see more Deaf parents as inspiring and be excellent role models to other parents and to share their experiences. In my role, I will continue to promote awareness and champion the needs of deaf parents at all levels.”
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