He said: “I first got in touch with Action on Hearing Loss through the Employment Service. I’d been off work for over a year because of mental health and was looking for volunteering opportunities to slowly get me back into work. The Employment Adviser suggested that with my skills I would be perfect for the Online Today project.
I started volunteering in February 2018 for one day a week. A major part of my role involves maintaining equipment for the project – we use a lot of iPads to demonstrate how to use the internet and I make sure the software is updated and that they are charged and working correctly. I also help maintain equipment for the Hearing Aid User Support Service and have recently made several one-to-one visits to demonstrate equipment to service users.
I get on really well with the team in Northern Ireland and I enjoy the atmosphere and banter in the office. I’ve appreciated the opportunity to get out the house during the week as before I would have been at home all the time and would only have gone out occasionally.
Volunteering has definitely increased my confidence – the first one-to-one training session I did was in my local area and I also did one at the Action on Hearing Loss office in Belfast. I get nervous going to new places but I think now that I would be able to do a training session somewhere I’ve never been before.
I’ve had to learn a lot about equipment as I had never used an iPad. I taught myself a lot and I use Google when I’m not sure about something. I wear two hearing aids myself and use the T Loop setting so I can usually figure out how to use the hearing equipment. Having a hearing loss myself has enabled me to be patient communicating with the people I support on the project.
I’ve done a lot of courses and have worked a lot over the years, from being a mechanic to doing administrative work. I’ve completed a number of photography courses and recently had one accredited which I am currently working on. I’d like to get some work experience in shadowing a photographer and learn more about different cameras and Photoshop. I feel more able to think about work now and I’d like to be a photographer one day.
The Online Today project has sadly come to an end but I’m still going to continue my volunteering role maintaining equipment. The information team has a lot of equipment which can benefit people with deafness, hearing loss or tinnitus so I’m looking forward to learning about that and using my skills in new ways. There will hopefully also be more opportunities to practice my photography skills and assist the Communications team with software and video editing.”