A TEAM of Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) who ‘worked their socks off’ during the pandemic to gain a better understanding of the challenges facing the Deaf community have won an award.
Aimee Bartlett, Miranda Whateley, Rachel Williams (Powys), Dan Brown, Joshua Chapman (Carmarthenshire), Charlotte Carter, Nia Williams (Ceredigion), Bethan Hawkridge and Zoe Monk (Pembrokeshire) were named winners of the Commitment to Learning award at the 2021 Dyfed-Powys Police Annual Awards ceremony on Thursday, November 18.
The nine PCSOs attended weekly British Sign Language (BSL) sessions with Caerphilly-based firm Deaf Friendly Business Solutions, each putting in more than 150 hours of study time and achieving Level 2 qualifications.
Their tutor Sarah Lawrence said the group had demonstrated incredible dedication to learning the visual language and had also immersed themselves in Deaf culture and history, and the challenges facing Deaf people.
Sarah, who is Deaf herself, said the group’s “desire and ambition” to learn her language had been truly heart-warming.
“As a member of the Deaf community I am delighted to say that each one of them ‘gets it’ - the isolation and barriers Deaf people face when trying to access any form of service,” she said.
“By learning BSL they have completely changed that dynamic, the lack of trust within the Deaf community and sometimes the lack of understanding.
“Through a shared language Dyfed-Powys Police now has more knowledge and understanding of the barriers people face when accessing policing services.”
She said the course had not only equipped nine individuals with a potentially lifesaving skill, but it had also helped their wider teams develop important community relationships that would not otherwise have been possible.
Added Sarah: “Dyfed-Powys Police should be proud of them: I know I am.”
The Dyfed-Powys Police Annual Awards are a celebration of the achievements and contributions of staff, officers, volunteers and partner agencies from across the force area.
The winners were presented with their award at a virtual ceremony held on Thursday, November 18.