Local charity Hearing Dogs for Deaf People urgently needs volunteers to step up as puppy parents to make a difference to people’s lives… Could you step up for this rewarding role?
Deafness is on the rise in the UK. By 2035, it is estimated that one in five British people (more than 15 million) will experience hearing loss.
Bucks-based UK charity Hearing Dogs for Deaf People trains clever dogs to alert deaf people to important and life-saving sounds including alarms, oven timers and even baby monitors. Its dogs also provide constant emotional support and companionship – helping deaf people to leave loneliness behind.
An increase in demand means Hearing Dogs for Deaf People urgently needs more local volunteer puppy trainers. The charity receives no government funding but is very fortunate to have a network of committed volunteers.
There are two types of volunteer roles the charity urgently needs to fill: permanent puppy trainers, who will look after a puppy for the duration of its training (usually between 18 months and two years), and short-term trainers to cover times when others are on holiday.
Linda Foster, who lives near High Wycombe, became a volunteer puppy trainer last year after retiring. “I started off by doing short-term cover when the other trainers were on holiday. I also went to puppy training sessions at The Grange,” says Linda. “Then in April, I started looking after Lola, a gorgeous 13-month-old black Labrador puppy, on a long-term basis. The experience has been very rewarding, and I’ve met some lovely people (and dogs).”
Without volunteers like Linda, the charity would not be able to help anywhere near as many people with hearing loss reconnect with life. Sixteen-year-old Zach Allen, from Chalfront St Peter, was diagnosed as deaf when he was three.
His mum Kirsty said: “Although we got support for Zach to attend a mainstream school, he still had challenges. I saw him lose confidence as he got older. Then, when Zach was eight, everything changed because Echo the hearing dog came into our lives.
“We took Echo into school so Zach’s year could meet him. As a teacher was about to tell the school about him, Zach stood up and introduced Echo to everyone. He explained how Echo alerts him by nudging with his nose. We all stood there open-mouthed at this confident child who had appeared from nowhere.”
Please visit hearingdogs.org.uk/volunteer or call 01844 348129.