Volunteering for Royal Association for Deaf people
My name is Daniel Rowland.
I’m 46 years old and I’ve suffered tinnitus-related hearing loss for approximately 25 years. I wear two in-ear canal hearing aids.
Up until a couple of years ago, I was a courier. I had my own franchise and worked in that industry for about 15 years.
It was not a job I enjoyed. It bored me to tears, frankly. And in time, I came to loathe it.
I can’t use the telephone and disliked loud and busy surroundings, so I felt my career choices were limited, to say the least.
Couriering seemed like my only option. I did it purely to make ends meet. I felt reasonably comfortable doing it because I was alone in the van for the majority of the day and thus my deafness was less of an issue.
I was shunning any situation where I felt uncomfortable, basically.
Then a few years ago, my hearing deteriorated quite suddenly and unexpectedly. This led to a higher level of hardship than I’d previously been used to due to my hearing loss.
I had no support network. I never have really. Friends and family try their best but unless they’ve walked in my shoes they can’t truly understand.
They made comments such as “You’re a good looking guy, you’ll be fine” and “I don’t think of you as having a disability” which despite their good intentions only proved how little insight they have into my struggles.
I understand that I don’t look disabled, that I look fine, but most of the difficulties in my life stem from the very fact I look fine, while actually I’m crying out for help.
I became depressed due to the sudden hearing deterioration and the dislike of my job which was already well established. In the end, I gave it up because I was in a downward spiral and needed to break the cycle and make myself well again.
I saw a therapist for a time and she was a great help to me.
Then as that ended, RAD came into my life.
It was serendipity.
I started volunteering in January 2020 and right from the word go I’ve been made to feel so welcome and cared for. Everyone was really nice and friendly and attentive. It made me feel at ease immediately.
I’ve never had the good fortune to work in such an environment before. It’s like a breath of fresh air. It was something I never thought would never exist for me.
Even though I’m only a volunteer, I was made to feel part of the team and part of the organisation at large.
RAD paid for me to do a BSL starter course. I was invited to a dinner to celebrate the end of the Building Better Opportunities scheme that I’d worked on, and also to a Deafness conference in Leicester.
Small things to some maybe, but they meant an awful lot me.
Being with RAD has opened my eyes so much. I never knew such help and support was out there for people in similar situations to myself.
Being with RAD has given me my confidence back. I’m no longer anxious in group situations or noisy environments. It’s made me feel useful again. Valued. And that’s something I’d forgotten about.
But more than anything, RAD have given me my ambition back. My drive. I’ve always been a hard worker but I’d lost sight of how to push myself.
My goal now is to carry on with RAD, gain my BSL qualifications and hopefully attain a full time position with RAD and build a career with them, helping as many people as possible.
RAD have given me this opportunity, and I’m not going to pass it up.