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Video description: A black deaf man stands in his kitchen. The cabinets are all white and there is a silver cheese grater directly behind him. There are various kitchen items on the table behind him. He wears a grey polo shirt. He signs in British Sign Language.  

A black deaf man stands in his kitchen. The cabinets are all white and there is a silver cheese grater directly behind him. There are various kitchen items on the table behind him. He wears a grey polo shirt. He signs in British Sign Language.

Transcript: My name is Tomas and I live with my partner Mark. Mark is white and we’ve been together for a long time. We are both Deaf, use BSL and are in our forties. 

We met at a local Deaf club and still have lots of friends there. Atter getting together we decided to move to a town near the Peak District to get our first home together, although this small town has always felt ‘too white’ for me.  

When we were setting up the contract to pay for our new house, Mark did most of the work, sorting paperwork and contracts because he has better English than me and can lipread very well.

We both had to get new jobs after we moved and managed to get work at one of the local pubs, spending most of our time as cleaners or kitchen assistants. Mark was sometimes asked to work behind the bar, probably because of his English and lipreading skills.

Mark had started to complain that he couldn’t breathe well. One night he woke me up unable to breathe and was starting to panic. He woke me up and asked me to contact NHS 111 but it wasn’t easy. 

There was no interpreter available straight away, and there was a misunderstanding about what was happening to Mark. This meant it took a long time to get help. 

Eventually I was told that emergency services were on their way.

However, when the ambulance arrived, there was no interpreter, and we could not understand the paramedics. They were wearing facemasks because of Covid-19 risks, so we couldn’t lipread or see their facial expressions. 

The paramedics checked Mark’s breathing and decided to take him to a local hospital in Manchester. They only wrote the name of the hospital on a piece of paper for me and gave me no other information.

Everything happened so fast! I was not allowed to travel with Mark in the ambulance – maybe because the paramedics did not realise I was Mark’s partner.

When Mark eventually arrived at the hospital, he was struggling to breathe and was feeling exhausted from the stress of trying to follow what was happening. Mark was unable to contact me to give updates because he left his phone at home. Mark told me afterwards how frightened he had been and that there was no one to help him communicate or get in touch with me.

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