Volunteer Week (1-7 June 2023) is an opportunity for us to celebrate the contribution that our volunteers make to NESS. With over 140 volunteers, contributing across the organisation, in roles including hearing aid maintenance, social media, reception, audio library, supporting social groups, volunteer driver, Board member, training, awareness raising, fundraising, managing the café and the gym, everyone can get involved.
The contribution of our 142 volunteers is essential to much of what we do and the impact we can have on the people that we support. Those who donate their valuable time to NESS as volunteers bring a different and valuable perspective on the work that we do and how we do it – and we couldn’t do it without them.
Every year we celebrate our volunteers with a series of local Volunteer lunches. The Aberdeen lunch took place earlier this week, the Dundee and Angus volunteer lunch took place on the 30th and the Moray lunch will take place later this year.
I got involved with NESS as an intern back in 2021 and after I finished my internship I found that I just wasn’t ready to say goodbye to NESS. I wanted to find a way to keep supporting the work that NESS does, and luckily there was space for a digital volunteer like me!”
What I love about volunteering with NESS is that it is quite flexible. There’s something for everyone at NESS and the team is great at supporting you towards finding a way of volunteering that works for both NESS and you.”
Lorraine Middleton joined NESS as our Community Fundraising Co-ordinator in May 2023 but Lorraine has been a volunteer at NESS for several years. Lorraine said:
“I first came into contact with NESS back in 2011, when I worked as an Events Co-ordinator for an oil company. We would support NESS by taking tables at the annual Ball, registering a team for the golf day and so on. The feedback from everyone who attended any of these events was always very positive and when I changed jobs in 2016, I decided to be more actively involved and became a volunteer.
“I have assisted at various events over the years and have always thoroughly enjoyed helping out, whether this was by selling raffle tickets or setting up a venue for an event, which can be hard work but always great fun. The most memorable one was when I decided to carry out the “Health & Safety” test run on the bouncy pirate ship at the Chapleton Charity Bike ride event – I have photographic evidence of this, but probably best not to share!
“Volunteers hold a special place within charitable organizations, as without them the provision of many additional services would not be possible. From drivers and readers, to mailing out information and talking books, everyone who volunteers their time is a vital cog in the well-oiled machine that is NESS.”
Jenny has volunteered at NESS for over 10 and a half years. She was introduced to NESS by a mutual acquaintance of NESS and at the time was looking for something to structure her time after she retired. Jenny ended up as a volunteer driver, transporting our older service users to and from activities.
“I never thought I would have the patience to support older people, but that’s actually the best bit of volunteering at NESS, People are often isolated, and they need support to get out and about, and coming to NESS is an opportunity for them to make good friends”.
Jenny is also a volunteer reader, reading and recording newspaper articles to create our audio magazines.
“For visually impaired people, the audio magazines are a vital way for them to keep in touch with what’s going on locally. You start volunteering with one thing, and then get involved with other things,” Jenny continues, who also helps out at Reception on our Aberdeen Resource Centre. “There is something different happening every day and there is often something new to learn.”
Linda has volunteered at NESS for nearly ten years and has taken on a number of roles in that time, helping out wherever she can. This has included helping with training, helping to run the audio library and the postal library, as well as helping out in the café and at reception at our resource centre in John Street, Aberdeen.
“I enjoy the company of the staff and the service users, and I enjoy helping out with whatever is going on in the different areas – I like feeling involved with everyone. I enjoy taking on admin tasks and keeping up with new technology. When I can, I try to take part in some of the social and fundraising events, such as the concert and the Christmas Fair.”
David has been volunteering with NESS for a number of years and runs the Hear2Help service in Moray. He says,
“Volunteering with NESS gave me the opportunity to get my life back on track after some mental health issues. Being part of the NESS team and to feel included and appreciated by the staff and service users was a life changer for me. Being part of the Elgin hear2help volunteers is great because it allows us to support hearing aid users when they most need us. I would highly recommend anyone thinking of giving something back to their community to Volunteer with NESS, the support from their lovely dedicated staff is second to none.
Our social groups in Dundee and Angus rely on volunteers to run effectively and to support our service users to take part in the activities. Isabel, who has volunteered for NESS for a while, says:
“It never felt like I am volunteering with NESS social groups, it always felt like I am am meeting with my friends.”
Eileen also volunteers with the local social groups in Angus and said,
“I saw a picture in our local paper of a lady from NESS assisting a client with her shopping and out for a walk. As I had just finished a previous voluntary post, I thought it looked very interesting, so got in touch with the local NESS group and as they say, ‘the rest is history’. I enjoy meeting and helping people, so this fits perfectly for me.”
June has volunteered for NESS for over 15 years, helping across many different functions. Currently, she helps supervise the small accessible gym at our Resource Centre in Aberdeen. June says,
“I like helping people to use the gym, it’s like helping friends, and I enjoy helping others and getting involved. You get to know the different ways that people like to be guided to access the gym equipment”.
Linda, who uses the gym regularly, and is visually impaired, said
“I rely on volunteers like June, to get out and about and do the things I want to do. Without her supervision in the gym, helping me to use the equipment, and helping me on and off, I wouldn’t be able to use it. People don’t really realise how much the volunteers do, until someone isn’t there, and then the whole structure that I depend on can crumble.
Linda also spoke about the audio magazine, Hameower, that NESS sends out regularly. This is created by volunteers being recorded reading local news stories.
“It’s the only way I can keep up with what’s going on in the city, as I don’t get any of the local papers,”
Laura Sharp has been a Board member for NESS for six very rewarding years. Laura says:
Being involved in the governance of the organisation has helped me to understand the vital role NESS plays in the Third Sector. Their commitment to enabling blind and deaf people to achieve independence in a challenging economic environment is admirable. I have been privileged to work with so many dedicated, skilled and kind people. I would highly recommend volunteering for NESS.”
Graham started volunteering with NESS in 2015. He responded to an news article in the local newspaper asking for volunteer drivers. Graham says:
“Having retired from work I had some free time which I felt I could put to good use. I also enjoy driving so it was an ideal opportunity to offer my assistance.
“I transport the service users to and from the service centre and am happy to help out if needed with whatever activity is being done on the day. From day one, the thing that has given me the greatest pleasure is that I find it so rewarding when I see how much it means to the users. For some of them it can be pretty much the only time they can get out of the house especially during the winter months.
“In addition, I also transport the blind/visually impaired bowlers to the Aberdeen Indoor Bowling Club where they play matches against each other. The enjoyment they get and the friendship with each other is clear for all to see.”
Jim has been volunteering for NESS for many years, after being introduced to one of our social workers who was supporting his mother. He currently also helps as a volunteer driver, as well as helping to run the audio library. Jim says:
“I really enjoy helping people, and driving people to and from the activities at NESS enables them get involved in activities that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to get involved in. I would thoroughly recommend volunteering with NESS”.
We are always looking for volunteer drivers, particularly in the Moray area. If you have a few hours spare a week and would like to support our older service users to get involved in the local Moray groups, please get in touch with us Contact Us – North East Sensory Services : North East Sensory Services (nesensoryservices.org)
We would like to take this opportunity to publicly thank all of our 142 volunteers for all the time and effort they contribute to supporting NESS and everyone that we support. We really appreciate it!