Fancy meeting new people, learning new skills and feeling that you’re helping people who are affected by acquired hearing loss? Anyone can apply to become a volunteer. You may have a hearing loss yourself, or be the partner of someone with a hearing loss, or just want to help those who have a hearing loss.
Our volunteer roles cater towards a variety of skills and interests, and may involve some travel or maybe none at all. Find out more about the range of volunteer roles currently on offer, and our volunteer training where we make sure you get the job that you will most enjoy. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, 0300 111 1113 or SMS 07526 123255.
“I help people regain lost confidence”
Says Clarrie: “I am so enormously proud to be a part of Hearing Link’s wonderful work, it means the world to me, to be there to support people just like me, who might just be feeling the way I did, the way I sometimes still do.
To signpost and support them in their journey to adapt to life with hearing loss, to help support them on the road to regain lost confidence and to begin to knock down those restricting barriers that deter you from living life as you could.
I love my voluntary roles – and selfishly, it’s not all for the benefit of others! I have gained self-confidence, I have started mixing with people again, trusting, laughing, I am no longer afraid to tell people what I want, what I need.
I have never been prouder of myself; to have gone through what I have and now be able to share my experiences with people like me. What I have learned, is that, you really can live your life just as fully with hearing loss, yes, there are struggles along the way, but as Audrey Hepburn once said ‘Nothing is impossible – the word itself says – I’m possible!
We just simply need the right support to help us on our way.”
“My five minutes of fame”
Colin Lennox from Dumfries (right) was one of the 16 Hearing Link volunteers trained specially to interview other deafened people as part of a collaborative project with the British Library.
He says: “It was great to meet volunteers from all over the UK for a weekend in Washington, Tyne and Wear during the summer. I was interviewed by fellow volunteer Stephanie and we discussed the effects of hearing loss on my home life, social life, and on my career as a professional football coach. Then I had the chance to interview Roger – about his cochlear implant and the voluntary work he does supporting other deafened people.
Hearing about other people’s stories and identifying with what they were saying was awesome. It’s amazing to know that our interview transcripts will be stored on the server at the British Library Sound Archive and will be accessible to the general public once the project is complete. They say every one has five minutes of fame; maybe being part of this oral history is mine?”
The Unheard Voices project provides insights and experiences of the lives of 68 deafened people, and was created, developed and carried out entirely by a group of Hearing Link volunteers.
“I’ve seen the difference my volunteering can make!”
James Newell has volunteered for Hearing Link for the past three years, using his personal experiences to support adults living with hearing loss across Northern Ireland.
James is a programme facilitator for our specialist support programmes, helping individuals and their families to learn tactics and techniques that can help them to manage the challenges hearing loss presents at home, work or socially.
He said: “I was really interested in the work of Hearing Link after meeting the charity’s Northern Ireland Manager at one of my work team meetings three years ago. I was impressed by what they had been doing in England and wanted to help them to support people in Northern Ireland in the same way. They were looking for volunteers and I was eager to get involved in a new challenge that I could focus my efforts on.”
Hearing Link offered James training opportunities and the chance to get involved with the charity at different activities and events. Most importantly for James however, is the impact his volunteering has on those he supports.
James, who works for the Belfast Trust, added: “My role with Hearing Link really does give me a boost of confidence from meeting other volunteers to sharing my personal experience of hearing loss. The charity does sterling work and I am proud to help others in overcoming the challenges they are facing.
“I have seen first-hand the incredible difference a programme has on a person’s life from the moment they arrive, until the moment the leave, and I’m extremely happy that I have a part to play in that.
“Hearing Link is also a fantastic organisation which has kept me very active and encouraged me to get involved every step of the way. I would encourage anyone to get involved in volunteering; it is such a positive experience.”
“I wanted to share my progress and confidence with others”
May Wood has been a Helpdesk Responder for the past seven months.
She helps general members of the public and healthcare professionals who contact our free Helpdesk to find the answers to their questions about hearing loss. Using her own personal experiences, May finds the information that suits the enquirer and their situation.
May was inspired to volunteer for our charity after it helped her to cope with severe hearing loss, something she had been struggling to do for many years. She attended the charity’s specialist support programmes, also led by volunteers, and has flourished since.
She said: “I realised I had learned a lot as I became deafened, I had experienced all the frustrations and knocks we go through and I had become much stronger as a person. I wanted to share that progress and confidence with others.
“I also found that the many skills I had acquired throughout my life and career were still valid and could be useful in supporting others with hearing loss as a Helpdesk Responder.
“I get a great sense of achievement in being able to help others, share information and experiences and research answers to signpost them towards accessing the support they need in their own struggles to cope with their hearing loss or that of a family member, friend or colleague.
“It is great for my self-esteem and confidence as a deaf person that I can continue to contribute positively to the experiences of others. Where I would struggle in the fully hearing world, I can effectively use my experience and skills.
“To anyone who is thinking of volunteering as a Helpdesk Responder I’d say “go for it”! It will give you a great sense of satisfaction to be able to help others along the way to coping better with life with deafness, you feel you are paying back for the help you yourself received.”
“Have you tried the deaf experience?”
Tony Long has been writing a fantastic blog about what life is like as the hearing partner of someone who has hearing problems. Here’s an extract from one of his entries …
“Have you tried the deaf experience? If not, do so or you’ll never understand what it’s like not to take in what’s being said without having to think about it.
My last deaf experience was at Hearing Link, before that I’d ridden my (very) loud Harley for a day wearing a half helmet. That ride worked well, my hearing was muffled and my ears rang for days. Stupid, but all I could think of. Anyway, those experiences worked to provide me with an inkling of what impairment hearing must be like to live with. Not sure how I’d cope every day, or sleep with extreme tinnitus come to that.”