Norfolk Deaf Association’s (NDA) Hearing Support Service (HSS), established in 1993, celebrated its 20th anniversary on Monday 22 April 2013 with a tea party for the service’s volunteers.
Over the last year 6296 people, comprising 7649 appointments, including 580 new referrals, benefited from the service, which is delivered by trained volunteers.
Volunteers help people affected by hearing loss, advising them on the use, cleaning and maintenance of hearing aids. Home visits are offered for those with limited mobility, and there are 50 static clinics and 28 mobile clinics, provided by the Listen Here! Bus, in towns and villages in Norfolk. The mobile clinic also visits 25 sheltered housing complexes. The timetables for both the static and mobile clinics can be downloaded from the website at www.norfolkdeaf.org.uk, or tel. 01603 404440 (voice/minicom).
The HSS is NDA’s largest service and is supported by the Norfolk & Norwich NHS University Hospital, which provides supplies and training. The service also receives some funding from North Norfolk and Central and South Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Groups.
In addition NDA runs an Assistive Listening Devices advice and support clinic on Thursday mornings between 10am and 1pm at the NDA headquarters, 217 Silver Road, Norwich NR3 4TL. This is ideal for anyone thinking of buying equipment to enhance hearing. A wide variety of equipment is on display including induction loops, wireless listeners, flashing and vibrating doorbells, vibrating alarm clocks, smoke alarms, telephone amplifiers and mobile phones.
Aliona Laker, NDA Manager said: “Our Hearing Support Service is delivered by 36 very hard working volunteers, co-ordinated by Pam Spicer. Four new volunteers have been trained during the last year and welcomed to the team, but we always need more volunteers to help us with this vital activity.”
Diana Gee, HSS volunteer said: “I went deaf in my twenties and am now in my seventies. I moved to Norfolk 20 years ago and the help I received from the HSS made a big difference. I have been a volunteer for 16 years now. The support from NDA means a great deal to people and gives them confidence. Volunteers normally operate generally within a five-mile radius from home. I enjoy meeting clients and have between two and four appointments a week.”
Dr John FitzGerald, Head of Audiology, Norfolk & Norwich NHS University Hospital said:
“The hearing support service provides a crucial part of the whole package of care for people with hearing aids in Norfolk. The mobile Listen Here! Bus provides a lifeline to communication for those who find it difficult to travel to the hospital for ongoing care.”
Gill Girling, NDA Trustee and the HSS’s first volunteer explains her hearing ‘journey’ and the value of the service: “Having turned down the offer of a hearing aid at age of 14, I was 28 before I eventually acquired one. After a brief attempt to use it I put it in a drawer and it remained there for the next seven years.”
“In 1983, now aged 35, I joined a lipreading class where the teacher, a hearing therapist, noticed that I put my hearing aid in my ear when I arrived and removed it at the end of the lesson. She offered me an appointment at her NHS clinic and after two sessions I began wearing my hearing aid every day and have never looked back.
“In 1991 I trained as a volunteer to help people with hearing aids. The British Association for the Hard of Hearing (now Hearing Concern/Link) ran the course. The idea was that, once trained, volunteers would approach their local audiology department and offer their services.”
“I was well received at the Norfolk & Norwich Hospital who, in March 1993, along with Social Services and NDA set up the HSS around me as the first volunteer. Other volunteers quickly followed. Soon NDA began providing its own volunteer training courses and the HSS became the respected, essential service it is today.”
“HSS volunteers provide information, offer support and education to family members and clean and maintain hearing aids and ear moulds. With ongoing encouragement and support I believe there is much less likelihood of hearing aids ending up in a drawer!”
Static Clinics include Blakeney, Coltishall, Fakenham, Gorleston, Holt, Ludham, Sheringham and Wells-next-the-Sea
Mobile Clinics include Acle, Aylsham, Bunwell, Dereham, Diss, Harleston, Hingham, Hoveton, North Walsham, Reepham, Stalham, Swaffham, Taverham, Thetford, Watton and Wymondham.
Norfolk Deaf Association was founded in 1898, originally as a benevolent society. The charity aims to improve the lives of young people and adults with all degrees of hearing loss through information, support, awareness and communication. The key services are Hearing Support Service, Befriending Service, Tinnitus Support Group, Deaf Awareness Training and Hard of Hearing Club.
We cannot run our services without the excellent help we get from our volunteers and the NDA owes an enormous debt of gratitude to all Volunteers past and present.
If you think you would be interested in becoming a volunteer please contact us at the NDA office. We will offer you training, a supervised introduction to the work we do and then regular training updates so you can maintain professional standards. Our volunteers find it very enjoyable and fulfilling. Why don’t you give it a try?
The photos are: Tony Innes, Chairman NDA with with Gill Girling NDA trustee and first Hearing Support Service Volunteer cut the birthday cake and a group shot of the volunteers.