How and why did you get involved into volunteering & how long have you been volunteering?
I’ve been volunteering with various Charities linked with the Deaf community for about four years in total, of which ten months has been involved in Manchester Deaf Centre. I wanted to volunteer because I wanted to change my career to become a BSL/English interpreter, and as I didn’t really know anyone in the Deaf community my volunteering has helped me to become part of this wonderful and vibrant community.
What volunteering projects (groups/services/events/fundraising) are you involved with at the moment?
My main volunteering roles are Manchester Deaf Centre is as a Communication Support Worker for the drop-in service – where Deaf people can come and see us to make phone calls for them, or translate letters from English to BSL (or vice-versa). This is quite a varied role which I love! I work closely with a BSL interpreter and Manchester City Council’s Sensory Team and you never know what the next person will bring you to help with, so you have to think on your feet!
My second role is as admin support to Manchester Deaf Centre’s Project Manager which has given me a good insight to the other services which are provided at the Centre. All my volunteering opportunities have set me in good stead for my future career and have complimented my existing skills and knowledge.
What do you like most about volunteering at Manchester Deaf Centre?
Mostly it’s the challenge and the feeling that I am making a contribution to the lives of those I support. Also, my BSL skills have improved enormously as most Manchester Deaf Centre staff and service users are BLS users! I have been welcomed into the centre as part of the team which is a lovely feeling.
Has volunteering helped you?
Absolutely! I now have a wide circle of friends and colleagues within the Deaf community. My confidence in using BSL and communicating with Deaf people has sky-rocketed and it gives me a great sense of pride that I am able to use my wider skill set to support and develop services at Manchester Deaf Centre. Now that I have finished my NVQ Level 6 in British Sign Language – the MDC team has also supported me in my career by helping me to achieve a place on the BSL interpreter training course which I start in a few months’ time! MDC staff actively look for opportunities for me to develop my skills – it’s like a win-win relationship!
What advice would you give to people that want to volunteer at Manchester Deaf Centre and what are the key things they need to know?
My advice would be to give it a go! There are lots and lots of different opportunities that you can get involved with! The team at MDC are friendly, approachable and supportive and you’ll be part of a volunteer team that makes a real difference to the Deaf community in Greater Manchester. If you get in contact with the Volunteer & Engagement Officer – they’ll be able to go through thing with you and find something that that is perfect for you!