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      Hearing Health campaign wins 'Best Volunteer Initiative' award

      16 January 2019

      Action on Hearing Loss Northern Ireland has won a national award for its ‘Don’t Lose the Music’ campaign, which aimed to raise awareness about the risks of overexposure to loud music by giving away over 9,000 earplugs to concert goers at Belsonic, CHSq and Belfast Vital.

      Action on Hearing Loss Northern Ireland winning ‘Best Volunteer Initiative’ award
      Left to right: Jayne McConaghie, Senior Officer for Health and Social Wellbeing Improvement, Public Health Agency; Maurice Meehan, Head of Health Improvement for the Northern area at the Public Health Agency; Jackie White, Director at Action on Hearing Loss Northern Ireland; Norma Kelly, Regional Volunteer Manager at Action on Hearing Loss Northern Ireland

      The campaign, ran in partnership with the Public Health Agency, is the first of its kind for any charity in Northern Ireland, bringing together the voluntary, public and private sectors to reach approximately 185,000 concert goers over the summer. It aimed to encourage young people to protect their hearing at noisy events by wearing earplugs and following the charity’s top tips for safer listening. Action on Hearing Loss research shows that more than 50% of people aged 18-24 have experienced tinnitus, with four million young people in the UK estimated to be at risk of hearing damage from over amplified music.

      Action on Hearing Loss was awarded by the Association of Association Executives at their Awards ceremony in London in December for the unique involvement of volunteers in the campaign.

      More than 80 volunteers were recruited to hand out earplugs to the public between June and September, and encourage concert goers to take photos to share on social media with the #dontlosethemusic hashtag.

      Concert goers were also given information about safe listening levels with the option to use a unique Facebook Messenger scan code to take part in a hearing loss quiz and learn more about protecting their hearing.

      Commenting on the award, the judges said: "Fantastic initiative – unique, fun, engaging, targeted, innovative and highly successful. Clever focusing on the large numbers attending summer festivals and great that the organisation was able to capitalise on this, impressive to have done it on a scale not done before."

      Volunteers attended 16 concerts between June and August, with headliners including The Script, Carl Cox, George Ezra and Travis. During this time they gave away over 9,000 pairs of earplugs. Many volunteers helped out at multiple events and 10% have committed to volunteering with the charity on a regular basis.

      Jackie White, Director at Action on Hearing Loss Northern Ireland, said: "It is more important than ever to communicate to young people the importance of looking after your hearing. Many people don’t realise that just two minutes at a live gig can be enough to cause permanent hearing loss or tinnitus. I am thankful to all our volunteers who helped promote this vital message over the summer, and we are grateful to all the support from MCD Productions and the Public Health Agency who supported this campaign.

      Volunteers play an essential role in delivering all our services for people who are deaf, have tinnitus or hearing loss in Northern Ireland and we are delighted to have been recognised with this award, which highlights the excellent volunteer experience we offer."

      Maurice Meehan, Head of Health Improvement for the Northern area at the Public Health Agency, said: "It’s important that people are aware of the risks that over-exposure to loud music can have on your hearing and the volunteers should be praised for bringing this message directly to people at events. Protect your hearing at noisy events, by wearing earplugs, standing away from speakers and taking a break for at least five minutes every hour."

      To find out more about hearing loss and music, visit www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk/dont-lose-the-music

      To find out about volunteering with Action on Hearing Loss, visit www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk/new-year-volunteer, email volunteeringni@hearingloss.org.uk or phone 028 9023 9619.