What made you want to volunteer with Action on Hearing Loss?I came from a housing background working in a front-line role with tenants from different backgrounds, including tenants who were deaf and used BSL to communicate. The in-house interpreter was seldom in the office and I became frustrated on the tenants’ behalf as they had housing problems and no one to assist them.
I found it incredibly disrespectful to communicate by writing notes to assist them and felt that we should be doing more to treat people equally. I wrote a proposal requesting funding to learn BSL one day a week, which was successful, and began teaching my colleagues how to greet residents and ask for their name and address in a more dignified way.
This wasn’t enough for me as I was keen to know more about the world for people who are deaf. I searched the internet and saw the vacancy for a volunteer receptionist at Action on Hearing Loss.
What did your volunteer role involve?I started working on the Reception Desk one afternoon a week, when I had finished my paid job, so I could learn and understand more. I answered the phone, sent emails and did general administration duties.
What did you gain from your volunteering role?It was a huge achievement for me as I have two dependent children, one with special needs, so my availability was very limited. I was able to learn BSL and volunteer on a weekly basis.
How did you become an employed staff member?I was made redundant from my job after working there for 12 years. A Maternity Cover role became available at Action on Hearing Loss, which I did as a job share. When the person I was covering returned to work, another role was advertised and I applied. I was successful and became a permanent member of staff, and am currently in my fourth year with the charity.
What does your current role involve and what you get out of it?I currently work on a switchboard, receiving internal and external queries. I sort the post, deal with couriers and deliveries, and process staff ID cards for the whole organisation.
I am currently working on a project I created to help people who are deaf by offering additional resources beyond those that we provide as a charity. I also recruit and train volunteers who show an interest in working on the Reception Desk.