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Services update March 2023

By Nicholas Orpin

March is the last month of the financial year and a natural point to take a breather and look back at all we have achieved together.

We’ll report on the year in due course, but for now, here’s the Services update for March!

LinkUp Groups

The latest LinkUp Group took place at The Grange, our charity’s headquarters in Buckinghamshire, over the weekend of 24-26 March.

There were 16 participants booked on for a weekend of support, information and advice from the team and each other.

Many thanks to Julia, Rosie, Jean, Claire and John for volunteering their time. Peer support volunteers are integral to the success of the weekend, and some of the immediate feedback bears that out.

One participant sent in a quote from Victor Hugo: “Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise”. They added: “Thank you for the weekend, Hearing Link Services team and volunteers. You’ve helped us bloom despite the darkness. Warmly, J”.

Other feedback:

“It’s been a really lovely weekend at Hearing Link at Hearing Dogs. Mum and I have both learnt so much, and come away feeling understood and empowered. Thank you to Helen, the organisers and volunteers for their hard work making the weekend so special.”

“An excellent but very emotional day full of kindness, sharing, help and information.”

As with each LinkUp Group, the participants will be followed up by one of the advisors in the central support team and from there can then benefit from further and more detailed information on a given subject, or more time with a peer support volunteer.

Thanks also to John and Dennis who are the hearing other halves of Claire and Julia. They participated fully in the guest role on the LinkUp, attending all sessions and contributing particularly with the hearing people who accompanied the deafened participants.

The full dates and locations for the financial year 2023-24 have been posted on the website.

Once we know the size and profile of the group we’ll be able decide on the right number of volunteers and roles, contributor sessions, training opportunities for new LinkUp volunteers, etc. Do make a note of the dates.

Please follow us on Facebook and Twitter and ‘like’ and ‘retweet’ at every opportunity.

Next stop is Cookstown in Northern Ireland in April.

Community Outreach Sessions

Huge thanks once again to Alison, Elaine, Ann, Margaret and Kirsty for leading on these invaluable community sessions.

If you would like to be involved in volunteering at either venue, please get in touch. Please share this information on your networks with anyone who would benefit from a friendly in-person conversation.

Above: Hearing Support Sessions, Edinburgh. Below: Mycanae House, London.

Personalised Services

Enquirers to the Helpdesk and LiveChat services dipped slightly in February with a combined 93 people requesting help and advice that way. This could be due to there being fewer days in the month.

If you can help us direct people to our valuable services, we can send you a supply of our QR cards. These business card-sized cards (pictured below) and the user simply scans the QR code and it take them to our Helpdesk page on the website so they can start a conversation about their hearing with us.

If you would like a small supply of these, or any other literature to hand out in your community, email and our communications team will send them out.

Community Days

These are days organised by our Partnership Instructors colleagues in the Community Support Team who look after the 1,100 people with a hearing dog across the UK. They are their local contact and the days bring together people for a social occasion. Naturally the conversations are around the common ties of having hearing loss and having a hearing dog.

In recent conversations, over 40 peer support volunteers have expressed an interest in attending these. The aim is to be on hand to offer advice and support to people regarding their hearing loss. Over time you would be the ‘go to’ person within the group for questions connected with hearing. It might be something specific, it might be something much wider.

No-one is expected to know all the answers all the time. With training, volunteers will be able to signpost to our Hearing Link Services, or use your local knowledge to what is available and useful in that locality, such as lipreading classes, sensory support, or even tips on which pubs and restaurants are the most acoustically friendly.

The dates and locations will be available in April in line with the training. We’ll start contacting the volunteers nearest to the locations that are hosting community days from April to June. It is hoped more than one volunteer can attend, or be on hand if someone can’t make it at the last minute. In that way there should be enough opportunities for everyone to be involved.

Helpful Hours

The pilot subject ’Getting the Most From Your Audiology Appointment’ had its first rehearsal to a live audience, and this will continue to refine the content, the delivery and the follow-up to this new service.

The narrative of the session takes participants through some stages to consider, before during and after an audiology appointment, whether that is the first or the 50th.

There are tips, anecdotes and practical information on preparing yourself, preparing for the appointment, understanding the audiologist’s language, knowing your hearing aids and other devices, and what happens after the appointment.

There is a helpsheet to take away and we are working on its content too.

Once completed there will be opportunities to become presenters for many more volunteers for this Helpful Hour and then expand the series with new subjects too.

Helpful Hours will be available in presentation and discussion formats, and where suitable as a demonstration too. They will be available online and in-person.