Volunteers' Week 2021, Day 1
Posted by Victoria Leedham
How important has your volunteering been to you in the last year?
"Volunteering delivers a feeling of giving something back. Having realised what a charmed life I've been lucky to enjoy, my intention was to repay in some way via volunteering. The result? Well I think I get more out of it than anyone else! Having volunteering to turn to in the last year added variety to what may have become a frustratingly restricted existence.
How has your volunteering changed since the first lockdown?
Roo presented me with eight puppies just before the first lockdown set in. Was there a lockdown?! Understandably my time and energy was completely absorbed by the wonderful experience of seeing eight cheeky pups being nurtured by their mum and being blessed with her allowing me to participate. Lockdown was rapidly and professionally handled by Hearing Dogs staff and, in my case, handover of the puppies was arranged with military precision to ensure the pups further development was not impeded by just being socialised with me. Once the puppies had left for their new Volunteer Puppy Trainer homes, having one-on-one time with Roo was welcomed and she has kept me thoroughly entertained since. The only lockdown casualty for me was the suspension of in-person training classes - Roo is forever telling me to up my game!
What have you learnt from the changes?
Probably the same as everyone - the use of technology to endeavor to keep contact and progress going. Nothing competes or replaces a physical meeting, but meeting virtually adds a few fun elements for the imagination. The thought of people returning to work in a shirt and tie or a posh blouse, mix and matched with pyjama bottoms, needs to be erased from my mind!
If any parts of your volunteering have been on hold, have you missed it or has the time gained been valuable?
The main element of my volunteering that has been on hold is the monthly training sessions at The Grange. In fairness, due to Roo having either been in season or looking after her litter meant that I'd only attended a couple of the sessions but they were fun and a great way of meeting fellow volunteers and their dogs. I'm looking forward to meeting staff and volunteers in real life again now that the sessions are back in the diary.
If you have been looking after a hearing dog mum, dad or trainee, have they been a welcome distraction from what’s been going on?
Absolutely! When the topic of 2020 comes up I think I initially shock people by saying that it was one of the best years I've ever had! There's no way that I'd be able to say that were it not for being privileged enough to be trusted to care for one of the charity's incredible dogs. She is a super stress buster and a pleasure to have around the house as well as out and about. She is the topic of so many ad-hoc conversations I've had with strangers on our walks, conversations that would never have started without her. The charity mantra of 'no deaf person should feel alone' is so on the money!"
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