Mini Blog Series – 4. From volunteers to friends

I started volunteering for Hearing Link Services (known then as Hearing Link) in September 2016.

In May 2018 I went on a LinkUp support group as a volunteer and found that it made me feel much more confident about my own hearing loss. 

I also made some very good friends, particularly Mel and Gill, fellow volunteers.

Mel has since got her hearing dog, Lucy. She is 18 years younger than me, so I’m very nearly old enough to be her mother but that doesn’t seem to matter!!

Learning through experiences and friendship

I’ve learnt an enormous amount from our friendship. I thought I was good at deaf awareness but now know that this is entirely different depending on the person.

Mel was the first person I met who told me that I needed to tap her on the shoulder if she wasn’t looking at me. This may be simple, but still life-changing for me!

I’ve also learnt how important a hearing dog can be. When we first met, Mel had been waiting for her dog for a few years. She had been teaching her young family about the practicalities of having a dog – they called him “Virtual Dave”. And, if her girls slammed a door at home, Mel would say: “Virtual Dave wouldn’t like that!!” This seemed to make life much easier when hearing dog, Lucy, arrived.

Facing challenges together

Travelling to a later LinkUp support group with Mel and Lucy, I learnt something about how challenging having an assistance dog can be.

At Marylebone Train Station there was no lift in action and no staircase. Mel was recovering from surgery so could not have managed to carry her Spaniel up the very steep escalator. So, we had to insist that the escalator was switched off while Mel and Lucy walked up it. (They beat me walking up the working escalator with both our sets of luggage!)

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Understanding one another

Gill, who’s been with the charity for many years has also become a good friend. It was Gill who persuaded me that I had something to give to Hearing Link Services. I’m very grateful for her support.

As they both live in the south east, we do (normally) manage to meet a few times a year which is lovely.

There’s something very comforting about being with people who really understand the issues you are facing without having to talk about them!

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