The joy of volunteering
By Alison, Volunteer Co-ordinator
We wanted to know what you get from volunteering with Hearing Link Services. Thank you to all who responded to my request in such a short timescale.
There is a recurring theme throughout your experiences – learning new things, gaining self-belief and most of all increased confidence in managing your own hearing loss through the support of your fellow volunteers and through being able to support others.
“I always learn something new.”Rosie
“I also enjoy learning something new from others which seems to happen every time.”Alison
“Knowing I have helped just one person gives me great joy.”James
Providing emotional support
Volunteering at LinkUp support groups, for example, can take volunteers back to when they were at a different stage of hearing loss. It means they can look back and see how far they have come themselves as well as having real empathy with the deafened participants and their partners.
You find it satisfying to provide emotional support which can be poignant for yourselves as well as the beneficiary but…
“It’s often something very simple, maybe telling them about Stagetext, Disabled Rail card or letting a new battery ‘breathe’ before putting it in!”Alison
“To be confident that the way LinkUps are run, means that once the weekend is over, the connection each of the participants has with Hearing Link Services will continue, as they move forward, forging their own individual paths to live better with hearing loss.”Ann
“Not only providing a listening ear, but also provide opportunities to offer advice or support through our pathways.”Sylvia
“Sometimes, someone is very sad but by the end of the LinkUp you can see that they are feeling more positive and have realised that they are not alone.”Rosie
Value of your volunteering
One of the reasons for asking the question is that over the years we have seen how much preparation you all put into your volunteering. You arrive at community days with your supply of literature (often brought in holiday suitcases on public transport) or even your own equipment as well as your knowledge, experience and personalities.
LinkUp support groups and talks involve local research, understanding the audience or participants and you all take the time to make sure you give the best you can and we want you to know that this is recognised.
This was particularly brought home to us as staff working with you following the success of the first Helpful Hour “How to get the most from your Audiology Appointment.”
“The team spirit has been amazing, with much laughter, productivity and commitment.”Sylvia
“It was during these discussions that I realised just how essential the help I was receiving from my fellow peer support volunteers was. They understood! They experienced the same things I did. They knew what I was talking about. And when during the months we were working on the project I suffered a further set back in my hearing I received, from them, both care and laughter to cheer me up in equal measure. Talking and working alongside other peer support volunteers, as well as the staff, has given me a new-found confidence and a far better appreciation as to what gives my hearing-impaired world meaning. Yes, we give our time and energy to our volunteering but it is certainly a two-way street – and I feel that I receive as much in return to keep me on this rocky hearing-impaired journey as I give; if not more.”Julia
And I’d like to give the final word to Charles on our wonderful community days:
“A good day out and a chance to meet others with similar issues.”Charles