Fraser volunteers to welcome visitors to Signal: The Hub, our friendly drop-in centre for hearing loss in Shropshire. Here he describes how volunteering at The Hub has had surprising results…
I saw that The Hub was looking for volunteers, so I came in and joined the team. As part of my induction, The Hub Manager Paul showed me how he carries out hearing screenings.
Paul gave me a screening, which indicated I had a problem with my hearing. Family members used to take the mickey, because they said I was not listening and had taken off into my own world. This went on for years, but no one thought to link this with hearing loss.
When I realised I had a problem with my hearing, it felt like the world was on top of me, but Paul put me at ease and we talked about how I could have a full hearing test.
I made an appointment to see my doctor and was referred to the Ear, Nose and Throat specialist and then to the Audiology department. I chose to visit Alex the NHS Audiologist at her clinic at The Hub.
I am a wheelchair user and it is easy for me to get to and around The Hub, and I met Alex before I went in for my appointments. We discussed my options and Alex fitted me with two hearing aids.
At first I found them loud and daunting, but they help me not to miss out and to take part in activities with family and friends.
On the day I had them fitted, I wore them at a football match. I was able to hear the crowd cheering and the players and the ref shouting. I felt both overwhelmed and happy. I almost felt like I was a new person.
My brother is a musician. I have been to his concerts but could not hear the music before. I am now looking forward to hearing him play properly.
All this has made a real difference to my volunteering at The Hub. I can hear people and also share first-hand experience of using a hearing aid, especially when others are anxious about this prospect.