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      Carpentry and Spitfires: how befriending can have a positive impact

      To celebrate Deaf Awareness Week (Monday 14th – Sunday 20th May) Action on Hearing Loss is showcasing positive stories from its Befriending Service, which supports isolated older people with hearing loss across Northern Ireland. John C, an older man in East Belfast with dual sensory loss, shares his story.

      Action on Hearing Loss Befriending volunteer John S has been visiting an older man with hearing loss, also called John, since March 2017. The two hit it off from the beginning due to their shared love of woodwork and carpentry.

      John C, from East Belfast, has dual sensory loss and no immediate family. He previously lived in a flat in Newtownards but admitted that he wasn’t happy there and wanted to move back to an area in Belfast where he grew up. He has recently moved to sheltered accommodation near this area and enjoys having John visit him for a chat and a catch up.

      He said: “I really enjoy having John visit me. The last time he came, he brought me this painting of a Spitfire he’d done for me. It will go up on the wall of my new flat. I’m a scaffold welder by trade but woodwork always ran in the family. John is a carpenter and we have a lot in common to talk about. I don’t socialise much in a group because I don’t hear everything and people don’t pronounce words right. I wear hearing aids and sometimes hear but don’t pick everything up. My eyesight was damaged following a cataract operation in the 1980s and I have heart problems but you just have to get on with things. There’s always people in a far worse boat.”

      Action on Hearing Loss Befriending volunteer, John S, added:

      “We both have hearing loss and wear hearing aids; my hearing started to go about 12 years ago. We don’t always catch everything the other says but we get on well and have plenty to talk about. I think this environment is better for John as he’d always wanted to move back here. I enjoy befriending as I know what hearing loss is like. I had an accident recently and was really frustrated because I couldn’t visit John until I was better. I didn’t want to let him down.”

      The Action on Hearing Loss Befriending Service supports isolated older people with hearing loss across Northern Ireland by matching them with a volunteer who visits them once or twice a month. For more information about the service or to become a volunteer, visit www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk/northernireland, email information.nireland@hearingloss.org.uk or call 028 9023 9619