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I’ve seen first-hand how I can make a positive impact: Mai’s story

Mai, Monitoring and Evaluation Volunteer

Volunteering can be a way to develop skills that will support you in your career. Mai Idris joined us as a Monitoring and Evaluation Team Supporter volunteer, working with our Evidence and Evaluation team on two big research projects.

What inspired you to become a volunteer?

Throughout my career, I’ve always tried to volunteer and give back to my local community. I was looking for a new volunteer role that would use my interest in evaluation research and develop my skills. I had learnt some British Sign Language (BSL) before and wanted to support a deaf charity that was having an impact.

What did you do as a volunteer?

I started off by analysing data from the annual Deaf Children Today membership survey. From members’ comments in the survey, I identified key themes and areas where members wanted change, such as access to BSL and healthcare services.

Through my analysis, I showed how access varies across different parts of the country, and for deaf young people at different stages of their lives. This information will help the National Deaf Children’s Society make sure their work is focused in the right places to make a real difference.

My next project was supporting a consultation with the BBC on the children’s news programme ‘Newsround’. I analysed feedback from 70 deaf young people and identified that they were relying on their friends and parents for news. They wanted to see BSL and captions on the Newsround website. My findings about what needed to change were presented to the BBC.

In March 2022 – BBC Newsround’s 50th anniversary – the BBC announced that Newsround’s daily bulletins would be available in BSL, and that they were working on adding captions to all the video content on their website.

What did you enjoy about volunteering?

I’m so proud of the Newsround project. I was elated at not only the success of the consultation report we produced, but also the impact it has had for deaf children. It has brought about change for a group who didn’t have full access to a mainstream service that many people take for granted. I hope this will lead other media outlets to make similar changes and improvements.

I loved every minute of volunteering at the National Deaf Children’s Society, and I hope to continue offering my support. I went away from the experience full of new ideas and transferable research skills, which I’m now using in my PhD to evaluate lessons learnt from recent projects to contribute to health policy change in East Africa. I’ve seen first-hand how I can make a positive impact, and I’m keen to carry this on into the future.

What support did you receive to help you?

I received a lot of support and training around the area of deafness and the deaf community. This was a key step towards understanding the significance of the work I would go onto to do at the National Deaf Children’s Society. I never got bored or stressed because of the care and support provided by the team.

I volunteered from home and the team were happy to accommodate my work and university schedule, which really helped.

What would you tell someone who is thinking about applying to volunteer?

The application process to become a volunteer is really straightforward. I did an interview with the team, which really reassured me that I was going to work with a great group of people and would learn a lot.

Please do apply as there are some amazing opportunities to contribute to a passionate community of people who really strive to make a difference every day. Your work is always valued, sometimes in the most surprising and rewarding way!

We’re so grateful to volunteers like Mai who are making a real difference for deaf children and young people.

Daniel Gallacher, Senior Participation Officer, describes Mai’s analysis as, “the bedrock of the successful Newsround business case.”

Charlotte Sansome, Evidence and Evaluation Manager, says, “With Mai's support, we were able to really do justice to the data, which is so important when deaf children and young people had spent valuable time giving us their feedback.”