The Jewish Deaf Association’s (JDA) Chief Executive, Sue Cipin, has been awarded the honour of Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2023 New Year Honours List for services to charity and to people with hearing impairments.
For over 70 years, JDA has enabled Deaf, Deafblind and hard of hearing people to overcome their daily challenges and to get the very best out of life.
In recent years, Sue has been the inspirational force behind the launch of innovative new initiatives such as Dcafe – JDA’s popular signing café, run by unemployed Deaf people, providing a diverse hub for the Deaf community while giving Deaf volunteers qualifications, confidence, and transferrable life skills so they can be successful in finding a job or returning to higher education.
To provide a haven for Deaf sign language users of all faiths and background and give them somewhere to turn for the support that was missing in their lives, Sue set up Independent Deaf Support Services – a drop-in that has since rescued hundreds of Deaf people from crises including homelessness, poverty and abuse.
And to alleviate the loneliness of older people in care homes who are isolated by their hearing loss, Sue launched Hearing Matters in Care – JDA’s pioneering hearing support service for care homes. The only service of its kind throughout England, it has so far trained over 1400 care home management and staff to understand and address the needs of residents with hearing loss and provide the right communication, support and equipment to enable the older people in their care to engage with their family, the staff and fellow residents, join in activities and enjoy a happier and more social later life.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Sue and her dedicated team of professional staff and volunteers worked tirelessly and succeeded in keeping all the deaf and deafblind people the JDA cares for – and hundreds more - safe, well, reassured, connected and mentally stable.
In May 2021 she received the Barnet Civic Award for Lifetime Achievement for services to deaf people. Sue was nominated by Mike Freer MP, Rabbi David Lister of Edgware United Synagogue and six JDA clients. Lead nominator Neil Kaufman, who is deaf, said: “Sue has improved the lives of so many people who, through lack of communication, can often feel left out of society. She goes the extra mile to ensure that the JDA caters for us all. Although she must be under a great deal of pressure, she always comes out smiling. Sue is truly a selfless and remarkable lady.”
Sue joined the JDA in September 1999, revolutionising its services and reach over the past 23 years, so that the charity can fulfil its mission of a world where there are no barriers to communication and understanding between deaf and hearing people.
On receiving the news, Sue said: “I am thrilled to have been awarded an OBE, which belongs to all our inspiring and committed staff and volunteers who do such incredible work. Being a part of the JDA community is not only crucial to our clients, it feeds the souls of all of us who are lucky enough to work here. JDA is part of who I am and I feel truly blessed to be a part of the JDA family.”
When asked what next, Sue says: “I’m truly proud of the services we have developed together, but there is a big piece of work to be done. To maximise inclusivity, we now need to bring about change in society’s attitudes, behaviour and understanding so everyone with hearing loss can live life to the full, without the stigma or obstacles they currently have to overcome day in and day out in our hearing world. Watch this space – we’re on it!”