Hearing Dogs for Deaf People Lifeline


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Hearing Dogs for Deaf People

Ben Fogle appeals on behalf of Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, a charity providing specially trained dogs to alert deaf people to danger signals.


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More than 10 million people in the UK experience

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some degree of hearing loss.

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That's one in six of the population.

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I count myself lucky to have good hearing and, like many people,

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I take for granted the fact that I can wake up in the morning

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and listen to birdsong, the alarm clock, the radio.

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It's very different experience for more than 800,000 people in the UK

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who are severely or profoundly deaf.

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For them, deafness can be an isolating and lonely disability.

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Sue has severe hearing loss.

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She has had to manage with her disability for most of her life.

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Even with her hearing aids

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there are still some sounds that Sue can't hear.

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Deafness is an invisible disability

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and nobody can see you have got that problem.

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People think you are being rude by not answering them and that is

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not the case at all, it's just purely you have failed to hear them.

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You very much do go into isolation.

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You want to spend time on your own

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because you haven't got to worry about listening to anybody else.

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But it was 12 years ago, after Sue's marriage broke down,

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and she became a single mother

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that she really struggled to cope with her deafness.

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I was feeling rock bottom.

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I had a lot of fears about what was going to happen in the future

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and how I would cope.

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I relied on the boys tremendously.

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If the phone went, Ben used to answer and talk to the person

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and he was only five.

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As time went on, Sue began to rely more on her two young sons.

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But when they started school Sue found herself alone and isolated.

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I felt very inadequate, I didn't have very much confidence,

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I was missing the doorbell and the telephone,

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and if the fire alarm went off, I wouldn't have heard that.

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I was just in a silent, lonely world of my own really.

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Without her sons around to help her.

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Sue became more and more withdrawn from the outside world.

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Many people living with deafness can feel vulnerable

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losing their sense of independence, security and confidence.

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That is why I'm appealing to you

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on behalf of Hearing Dogs For Deaf People.

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It is a charity close to my heart.

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It was my father,

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Dr Bruce Fogle, that helped found the charity 30 years ago.

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He realised that specially trained dogs

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could make a massive difference to those living with deafness.

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11-year-old Poppy is just one of the 45,000 deaf children

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living in the UK.

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She was diagnosed with severe hearing loss

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when she was two and half years old.

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Her hearing aids don't give her a hearing

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like a normal hearing person could hear.

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She gets a lot of background noise, cutlery banging is a nightmare,

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restaurants are particularly difficult.

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I can't hear low whispers and if someone was speaking behind me,

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I couldn't hear them because they have to face me.

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As the only deaf child in her school,

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Poppy began to feel particularly self-conscious

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when the younger children asked about her disability.

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I didn't like people asking like, "What's that in your ear?"

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And I didn't know how to answer.

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I hid my hearing aids.

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Like I would always wear my hair long hoping no-one would notice.

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It wasn't just at school where Poppy was made to feel different.

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If people tried to ask me questions, they would go and ask my mum and dad.

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I felt invisible.

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But it was when Poppy took her hearing aids out at night

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that she would feel most alone.

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When you've had hearing aids in and know there are noises about,

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to take them out it must make you feel quite vulnerable, I think.

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Poppy would get up and down, up and down every single night.

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So we would say, what are you doing?

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And she said, I am checking you're here.

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I would just lay awake, just staring at the ceiling.

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I felt isolated and I felt lonely.

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However, there is a charity dedicated to help people like Poppy.

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Hearing Dogs for Deaf People is

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a national charity and centre of excellence,

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offering independence, confidence and companionship

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to deaf people by providing them with specially-trained dogs

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to alert them to household sounds and danger signals.

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The charity has two dedicated training centres

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where they adopt around 200 puppies a year.

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Selina is one of their head trainers.

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When the puppies reach about a year old

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they're ready for their advanced training

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and start learning about the sounds that they need to respond to.

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For 18 weeks the puppies learn how to respond to

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sounds like doorbells, timers and alarm clocks.

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When a hearing dog hears a sound, we train the dog to come

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and touch their trainer and they will ask, what is it?

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And this will indicate to the dog that you've felt the alert

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and you can follow them to which sound it is.

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Towards the end of training

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the dogs are taught how to respond to danger sounds.

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-The dogs response is different.

-What is it?

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They will then lie down on the floor and that indicates danger,

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so that the person knows, OK, there's something wrong,

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I should get out of the house.

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Each dog is then carefully matched to an individual

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to create a unique partnership.

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There really is a strong inseparable bond

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created between the two and it's lovely to see.

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Each partnership formed with dogs like Robin here,

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is testament to the life-changing difference a hearing dog can make.

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From the practical assistance

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through to the therapeutic and social benefits.

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The bond formed with dogs like Robin is truly unique.

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18 months ago, Sue was paired with Jasmine,

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a three-year-old Cocker Spaniel cross.

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The pair have been inseparable ever since.

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She's making you go out and meeting people, and you've got the added

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advantage of she's telling you every time the doorbell or the phone goes.

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Jasmine changed my life overnight literally

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Not only does Jasmine help Sue with everyday household sounds,

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but she's now very much part of the family.

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Jas has given me all the confidence in the world now.

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I just feel like I've got the whole world in front of me.

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The charity has recently piloted a scheme to see if the life changing

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impact a hearing dog has on adults could extend to children to Poppy.

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And has it worked?

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Yes. I think it's a success.

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Three-year-old Cocker Spaniel cross, Maddy,

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has made an instant impact on Poppy's life.

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The sleeping was an incredible difference straightaway.

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The night we got Maddy she slept through the night,

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didn't get up and check.

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It's very comforting to know she is there

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and she will just lie there and go to sleep, like me.

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And it's not just sleep where Maddy has made a big difference

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She has really boosted my confidence.

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I don't feel that invisible because Maddy sort of says,

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"Hello, she is here, she can speak, you know."

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I just love her to bits.

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Currently Hearing Dogs For Deaf People

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has 750 working partnerships in the UK.

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But there are still 100s waiting to benefit from

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one of these incredibly special dogs.

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This is where you could make a real difference

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to the life of a deaf person.

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Please go to the website -

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where you can make a donation.

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If you don't have access to the internet, then call 0800 011 011.

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And if you can't get through, please, please keep trying.

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You can also donate £10 by texting 'GIVE' to 70121.

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Texts cost £10 plus your standard network message charge

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and the whole £10 goes to Hearing Dogs For Deaf People.

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Full terms and conditions can be found at bbc.co.uk/lifeline.

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Telephone calls are free from most landlines.

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Some networks and mobile operators will charge for these calls.

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Or if you'd like to post a donation,

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please make your cheque payable to Hearing Dogs For Deaf People

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and send it to Freepost, BBC Lifeline Appeal,

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writing Hearing Dogs For Deaf People on the back of the envelope.

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Remember, if you're a UK taxpayer,

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the charity can collect gift aid on your donation, worth another 25%.

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Just send in a note, to say you want your donation to be subject

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to Gift Aid, and include the date, your full name and address.

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Thank you.

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Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

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TV presenter, writer and adventurer Ben Fogle makes an appeal on behalf of Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, a charity his father, Dr Bruce Fogle, helped set up thirty years ago. The charity offers greater independence, confidence and companionship to deaf people by providing specially trained dogs to alert them to everyday sounds and danger signals.

The film features Sue, who has been severely deaf for most of her life. Without her family around to help her she became very isolated and depressed. But since the charity paired her with hearing dog Jasmine her life has completely changed. Jasmine not only helps Sue with alarms and signals, but she has increased her self-confidence too.