Rob’s Story

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Rob has been volunteering for over 20 years. His first volunteering role was as a youth and community volunteer in North Somerset. After volunteering to work with troubled young people in North Somerset, Rob then volunteered for the Manic Depression Fellowship (now Bipolar UK), and Mencap Gateway. Since moving to Northumberland he has continued volunteering. This includes being a telephone befriender with a local Blind Association’s Sight Line, a befriender with their Social Eyes group, plus numerous church and community groups.

Rob developed Retinitis Pigmentosa as a young boy and is now totally blind. He undertook our deafblind awareness training and feels the training has certainly raised his awareness of deafblindness.

“Some of our groups include people with both sight and hearing difficulties. I am now more aware of the deafness aspects than before. For example, we used the training to help us find a more suitable venue for one of our groups. Some members were finding it difficult to take part when there is background noise.  We found a pub with good natural light, which helps some of the group to see our faces better, and where the music is really discreet so we can hear each other better. It’s the practical tips from your training that have really helped.”

“One of the things I really enjoy about volunteering, even when it is telephone or internet based, is sharing good stories. With the training, if I am asked to buddy a deafblind person I will now be more confident and at least we will be able to have a good conversation using deafblind communication.”

Margaret’s Story

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Margaret is retired but firmly busy! She has an MSc in Education and many years of teaching practice; she also worked for the National Foundation for Educational Research as a Senior Research Officer. Her career has brought her into contact with deafness and blindness on a number of occasions.

Perhaps it is no surprise that Margaret now devotes considerable time and effort as a volunteer supporting older people, older blind people, and more recently older deafblind people through our sister In Good Hands (IGH) project.

Margaret received our deafblind awareness and deafblind guiding training in August 2012. Almost immediately and quite by chance she was buddied with a deafblind adult in her home area. “The training gave me the confidence and practical skills to guide and support a deafblind adult. I didn’t know a lot about deafness prior to the training and that also helped.”

“Through my experience at the local blind association and with the skills from the training I now work with a man who has been blind since childhood. His hearing is also getting worse to the extent that he now wears a hearing aid and has a cochlear implant. His wife works tirelessly to support him and in a way I hope the time I give helps them both. They are a wonderful couple.”

“At Age UK I support older people who are at risk of becoming isolated. Many have some degree of hearing or sight difficulty. I hope that the deafblind training I received can also benefit the people at Age UK.”