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Supporting deaf adults

412. Nigel Williams

A Cardiff volunteer who has supported deaf adults both emotionally and practically through establishing support networks and rehabilitation programmes.

Nigel Williams, 59, was inspired to support adults with hearing loss and their families after becoming deaf at the age of 16, due to meningitis. Nigel believed that more could be done to assist the hearing impaired and wanted to use his personal experiences to help adults cope with the impact of hearing loss.

Nigel is currently the Chairman of Hearing Link, a leading UK charity tailored purely to helping adults and their families cope both emotionally and practically through a support network of volunteers. Nigel has volunteered at Hearing Link for over 12 years and, under his steer as chairman, the charity has grown and developed ways of helping all those who rely on them. Hearing Link offers a wide range of services including a Self Management Programme and a week long Rehabilitation Programme where participants receive practical support in dealing with hearing loss delivered by volunteers who themselves have experience of living with hearing loss. In addition to these programmes Hearing Link provide one to one community sessions and an online support forum supported by volunteers.

Nigel’s work has led to many users of the charity becoming volunteers themselves and giving back to others. Nigel is also the Chairman of the association that represents people who rely on cochlear implants, electronic devices that replace the function of the damaged inner ear allowing people to hear. The National Cochlear Implant Users Association works to improve awareness of the support that is available for people needing the implants. As Chairman, Nigel set up effective partnerships with support groups, including with the three UK’s most influential charities for deafness. Together they have changed the standard treatment for deaf adults in the UK, raised awareness and given evidence to government to ensure that cochlear implants are now regarded as a standard method of treatment when an adult becomes deaf, regardless of cost.

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

“By bringing together two of the biggest charities working with deaf adults in the UK, Nigel has made a huge difference to the services and support available to them. He has also played an important role in making sure the guidance given to the NHS on treatment for deaf adults offers them the highest standard of care. I am delighted to recognise Nigel as the UK’s 412th Point of Light.”

Nigel Williams said:

“I am surprised and thrilled to receive this award which I hope will encourage everyone who is dealing with hearing loss, which often impacts on far more than your ability to hear. The consequences of hearing loss often affects a person’s confidence and self-esteem and through practical support from people who live with hearing loss themselves people soon see that this need not be a barrier to leading a full and rewarding life. It’s a privilege to work with an organisation such as Hearing Link and I am grateful to everyone involved who provide so much help and support to others.”

Stephen Doughty said:

“Congratulations to Nigel, a thoroughly deserving recipient of this award. He has used his own personal experience to help so many people with hearing loss, providing support and advice to help them live well and overcome the challenges they may face. His determination to improve the lives of others is an inspiration.”

The daily Points of Light award recognises outstanding individual volunteers - people who are making a change in their community.

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