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      Melvina Copeland

      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.

      What would you say to anyone thinking about volunteering and what it can mean for their career prospects?

      Go for it! Think carefully about where your interest lies and what sort of organisation you would like to volunteer for, as this can lead to a career. It is important you do something you believe in and have the passion for - then you will want to do devote your time to the work.
      Melvina Copeland