Jo is a GH buddy. She also volunteers as a tutor at a local university, supporting PGCE trainees with their studies. 

Jo grew up in Cornwall and was a Physical Education Specialist. She has been a teacher for most of her life. She also has a Post Graduate Diploma in Counselling. Outside of her work and academic studies, she has a husband, 3 adult children and 7 grandchildren to keep her busy.

How did Jo get involved?

Jo was diagnosed with Genetic Haemochromatosis when she was 65, having felt unwell with fatigue. Shortly after her diagnosis, she became aware of Haemochromatosis UK and attended her first AGM in Birmingham.

She learnt about the helpline at the AGM, which at the time, was formatted for volunteers to answer phone calls, offering support and advise to those who called with queries about GH. Jo remembers thinking that perhaps she would enjoy working on the helpline; she felt she’d be good at it, having had experience with GH first hand, as well as her Diploma in Counselling. 

During the COVID 19 Pandemic, Jo decided to put her time at indoors to good use! She decided to undertake the training required to volunteer on the helpline. Once she had completed this, she was a fully fledged volunteer and she very much enjoyed her time being a helpline volunteer until the service transitioned into the ‘Buddy’ system it is today. 

Jo now volunteers as a GH Buddy, supporting those who reach out to the Haemochromatosis UK, requiring support and an ear to listen from someone who may have had similar experiences with GH as themselves.

What have been the memorable moments?

Jo recalls a Haemochromatosis UK event that took place in Cambridge a couple of years ago. Following the COVID 19 pandemic, she felt she really benefitted from being able to meet her fellow volunteers in person, as opposed to on ‘Zoom’! Jo looks forward to more opportunities to meet face to face in the future.  

What are the benefits of volunteering with Haemochromatosis UK?

“I really think what HUK has achieved has been amazing.” Jo told me she felt as though she was making a difference. She recalls phone calls with people who have answered the phone feeling anxious and frightened about what may be to come, following their diagnosis, “talking to us, they begin to understand what it’s all about.”