The Befriending Service offers support and friendship to members of the community who experience any degree of hearing loss, as well as being by affected by, for example, loneliness, isolation and disability. Whatever the reason, NDA’s aim is to help the befriendee overcome their problems by offering the special support of a volunteer befriender.
Pam Spicer, Co-ordinator of the Hearing Support Service explained: “We are very busy with lots of referrals and demand for new community clinics. We would like to add to our very dedicated group of volunteers. For both services we offer three days extensive initial training and then ongoing training and support. We also have social gatherings where volunteers can get to know each other. Both volunteers and the people they are helping find their involvement with NDA very rewarding.”
John has been a NDA volunteer for seven years, working on the mobile clinic two days a month. “I have had a hearing aid for 12 years and derive great satisfaction from being able to help people in a similar condition to me. Being able assist people out in the county where they live can make a real difference. There’s a practical side to the work, replacing tubes, helping fit ear moulds correctly and replacing batteries. But it’s also about giving people confidence and encouraging them to use their hearing aid properly.”
Mary visits the mobile clinic at either Hickling or Stalham: “I visit every two months to get new batteries. It’s brilliant, the NDA volunteers are very helpful answering all my questions.”
Maria has been a befriending volunteer for six years. She first became aware of NDA when she moved to Norwich and wanted advice about registering her own hearing aids with the NHS. Maria had experience working as a volunteer for Mencap and decided to train to work on both mobile and static clinics for the Hearing Support Service and as a befriender.
“I’ve been a volunteer for six years,” explained Maria. “It is very rewarding. I can recommend it to anyone. I work on the mobile clinics at Acle, Brundall and Poringland and also visit local sheltered housing and nursing homes. I’ve also assisted three ‘friends’. I learn so much from my befriendees. We reminisce about the past and generally put the world to rights and its wonderful when I see their confidence grow.”
Maria has befriended Vera (93), who lives with her daughter Avril in Norwich. “I visit Vera once a week for two hours, said Maria. “We plan our diary in advance and are also in touch on the phone if visits need to be rearranged.”
Vera said: “Avril, my daughter, found out about the NDA Befriending Service from Age UK. Maria has been a real lifesaver. She helped me get a NHS hearing aid, then made sure I could fit it properly; she always checks it on every visit. We chat about lots of things, different topics every week. I really like Strictly Come Dancing and we go through the Strictly book some visits discussing the costumes and the performers. Maria has been wonderful for me.”
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.