Masuma’s Employment Journey in the Sight Loss Sector

“How did you end up working for the sight loss sector?”

This is one of the questions I most often get asked by people, and the one I regularly hear being discussed is whether most blind and partially sighted people end up working for the sight loss sector.

There are around 84,000 registered blind people of working age (18-65 year olds) in the UK, and only 21,000 (1 in 4 compared to 3 in 4 sighted people) of the working age population are in employment.

I feel extremely fortunate to be in the working age figure. My employment journey started with a part-time role as a Braille transcriber at a mainstream college. This job was a great starting point for me in the world of work and being part-time provided me with the opportunity to volunteer and upskill myself at the same time. I initially looked for volunteering roles away from the sight loss sector, not because I had anything against it, but simply due to not having given it any thought.

However, I learnt very quickly that it was rather difficult to find a voluntary role with organisations outside the sector. Also having received feedback from employers that I didn’t have enough experience, I resorted to looking for volunteering opportunities within the sight loss sector and landed myself a number of various roles. To be told by employers that you don’t have enough experience and struggling to even gain a voluntary role outside of the sector was soul destroying, it is a horrible catch-22 situation, which certainly didn’t do my confidence any good. However, the good news is that it seems things have moved on somewhat as I know several people who have volunteered with organisations away from the sight loss sector. Yes, I’m sure it can still be a struggle, but hopefully things are slowly changing.

Not only did the volunteering opportunities allow me to grow and increase my skills, knowledge and experience, it provided a good platform to network. My voluntary role at Waltham Forest Vision (formerly known as Low Vision Forum) resulted in a successful application and interview on a trainee contract. This set my journey into the sight loss sector and I’ve never looked back!

However, to assume every blind or partially sighted person ends up working for the VI sector is completely incorrect. I know just as many vision impaired people who work in the sector as well as don’t.

I would strongly encourage all VI people looking for work to take up volunteering opportunities, to network and build good rapport with people. Some may say I’m one of the lucky ones, and whilst there may be a very small element of truth, it certainly wasn’t all smooth sailing. The struggle of finding employment was real and can definitely be that much harder for vision impaired people. However, despite experiencing knock-backs throughout my employment journey, my proactive self-help approach, positive can-do attitude and, at times, throwing myself into the unknown certainly paid off. I am truly grateful and thankful to the people who have both personally and professionally supported me along the way.

Masuma Ali
Photo of Masuma smiling.

Listen to Masuma talk to the Thomas Pocklington Trust about her life and employment journey in the sight loss sector.

Written by Masuma Ali

 

Advertisements

Tribute to My Dear Friend and Colleague Roger Clifton

I first met Roger Clifton when I was volunteering at Beyond Barriers Vision Impaired Group in Tower Hamlets, and the first impression I got was he’s a great guy.

Later I was lucky enough to be asked by Roger to attend an interview at East London Vision (ELVis). And as luck would have it, I was offered a job at East London Vision working with Roger Clifton who was the CEO at the time.

I worked with Roger for over two years. He was so encouraging, had great enthusiasm and was so passionate. It was a joy and a privilege to work with him. I remember him being a very positive person, and all the service users were fond of him. He was a very charismatic man.

Roger was not only my work colleague but he was a great friend. What a sad day when he was took away from us. Roger will be missed but he will be forever in our hearts.

Roger Clifton
Photo of Roger Clifton looking very smart in his suit.

Written by Christine Edmead

Why the Snapchat Spectacles Are No Ordinary Pair of Sunglasses

You’ve probably have heard of Google Glasses, but have you heard of the Snapchat Spectacles? If you’re familiar with social media then you’ve probably come across Snapchat which is a popular social media platform (which can only be accessed on smart devices) that allows users to share messages, photos and videos with other users.

Aesthetically, the Snapchat Spectacles look pretty cool, but don’t let its appearance fool you as they are unlike any ordinary pair of sunglasses! You can use these sunglasses to record videos to share on Snapchat. All you have to do is connect them with the Snapchat app via Bluetooth on initial set up. So whenever you record your videos (by pressing the top right-hand button) they will automatically download on to the app when your sunglasses and smart devices are connected via Bluetooth. Then, you can start sharing the videos.

As I own a pair of these glasses (which cost me £130) I’m probably being really bias by saying they’re amazing. Not only do they protect your eyes from sun damage (UV protection), but they can also take away the hassle from having to open the camera app on your smart device and pressing record. This is great when you’re taking part in on-the-go activities like canoeing, riding a rollercoaster or when you’re hot air balloon. However, there have been concerns which have been raised about these glasses in public including invading the privacy of others. There are many places where wearing these glasses would be inappropriate like in public toilets and changing rooms.

Furthermore, if you’re looking for a pair of glasses which record long videos then the Snapchat sunglasses are probably not for you as they only record 10 second videos. However, you can stitch them together to create a longer video. You can also download the videos on to your smart device like a phone or tablet and start sharing them on other social media sites like Instagram.

Let me know what you think of the Snapchat Spectacles– are they’re a good thing, and would you consider buying one? If you have one let me know what your experience is like using them by leaving a comment below.

31714544314_b9da5f9a91_b

Photo of a pair of Snapchat Spectacles in its yellow case.

Written by Ray Calamaan

Service User Daniel Develops His Confidence Attending East London Vision Events

My name is Daniel and I’m 36 years old. In my blog article I will be speaking about my memorable moments attending East London Vision events this year.

I attend the Beyond Sight Loss Group in Tower Hamlets. I have been diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, night blindness and tunnel vision. My eye conditions affect me mostly during the evening so that’s when I need my white cane the most!

Coming along to ELVis events enables me to socialise and make new friends. The activities I’ve been along to include a visit to Clacton-on-Sea, a boat trip to Richmond Park and a quiz night in Newham. I enjoyed all the events, although I especially liked the quiz night because it was diverse. There was lots of delicious food to eat, games to play, karaoke and a raffle- which I won a prize from!

All the events I’ve attended with ELVis were accessible. I travelled by minibus to Clacton-on-Sea with the Beyond Sight Loss Group. And there were many volunteers assisting us on the day which was great! They demonstrated a lot of care and understanding towards all the clients. They even joined us on the rides.

I had a nice time getting to know Sandy and her husband, who are both ELVis volunteers. They’re both personable and have a great sense of humour. I enjoyed our conversations. Moreover, Bhavini Makwana who organised the trip came along. Her friendly personality made me feel very welcome, and I felt very glad I attended the trip.

It is very rewarding to come along to ELVis events. Not all places are accessible, and going out with ELVis challenges these barriers. I can now clearly see that my disability shouldn’t stop me from having a good time.

IMG_0675
Daniel (middle) with other ELVis members posing for a group photo during a trip to Clacton-On-Sea.

If you would like to know more about East London Vision, and for regular updates on events and activities for vision impaired people living in East London, please visit www.eastlondonvision.org.uk.

Alternatively, you can contact Nicola on 07914770909 or email Nicola@eastlondonvision.org.uk for more details.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my article. Thank you!

Written by Daniel Worrington