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Changing lives through volunteering

7 June 2013

Big Lottery Fund has produced a map of good causes, many of which rely on the support of local volunteers to make a difference.

Andy Griffin

Andy Griffin

Research has found that volunteering can also help to increase a person’s skills and confidence, open up new opportunities and give you the chance to meet new people. Our map is bursting with opportunities to give something back, so what are you waiting for?

Andy Griffin is one person who has made a massive difference to the lives of local people through volunteering.

Andy’s story:
Andy from Northumberland is a retired deputy head teacher of a special needs school. He started volunteering for Action on Hearing Loss following his own experience of hearing difficulties.

“I was doing reading practice with my primary school classes and it became clear I couldn’t hear them properly. My family has had deafness problems throughout the generations. My mother was profoundly deaf in old age.”

Andy didn’t set out to volunteer. He wanted to find a local lip-reading class, having read about the difference the skill can make to people who have a hearing loss. “I was conscious of withdrawing from the company of others – a feature of hearing loss.” He was astonished to find there weren’t any local lip-reading classes, so he set out to find out more.

As part of his volunteering role at Action on Hearing Loss, Andy worked with local MPs Andy to make incredible strides in developing lip-reading services in Northumberland. His concerns were taken to parliament and as a result there are now classes available to people in Northumberland and agencies are looking at how to develop services more widely. Andy said, “It was gratifying to know someone could take it to Westminster and make it into a bigger issue. Learning to lip read is very liberating.”

His advice to people considering a volunteer role? “Make it part of your lifestyle, don’t take on too much, and keep a balance between helping others and looking after yourself.”

As a volunteer, Andy has visited Buckingham Palace to pick up a regional volunteer award. “The award is very nice, but that’s not the end goal. What matters is I’ve instigated something; volunteers can do that, they can change things.”

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