Last week marked International Volunteers Day which made me reflect upon my own volunteering I do and also how important and valued our volunteers are to us.

I started volunteering for RP Fighting Blindness back in 2014 on their helpline, and then for the RNIB as a Telephone facilitator. This was a group of around 6 Ladies who got together over the phone from across the UK and Ireland and it allowed them to share their views on sight loss related topics but also just things about general life, share tips on anything and discuss Ladies issues in a non-intrusive space

I also volunteered for RP Fighting Blindness by raising awareness by hosting charity fundraising events to support those affected with RP, their family and friends and bring information and other support services available to them. I later volunteered for the Pocklington Trust as an Eye Clinic Support Services Officer at an East London satellite site for Moorfields.

All my volunteering experiences allowed me to offer advice, information and guide them in the right direction to help them cope and deal with their sight loss and manage their day to day life, no matter what their age, how far along their sight loss journey they were on, what other family support they had but the fact that I was able to make a difference in a positive way made me feel greatly satisfied.

The reason I started volunteering was to give back to others that I had received from other volunteers in fact. RP Fighting Blindness was a life changing charity who supported me to get back on my feet and I wanted to show my appreciation and soon started volunteering for them. The rest just came up as opportunities and I just simply loved impacting and helping others whilst they adjusted and accept life as a vision impaired person. It’s a worthwhile and humbling feeling, knowing that someone has benefitted from what you shared with them, the time you gave them or just listened when they needed to talk.

Whilst working as an Activities Coordinator, I heavily liaised with the volunteering department to request volunteers to support our members to enable them to attend meetings, activities, or events which are organised, Our volunteers support by guiding, describing, listening and much more. Without our volunteers, some of our members would not be able to attend, which would only lead to increase isolation.
I recently took a group out to Madam Tussaud’s s part of a Focus Group, to test out their accessibility, I was delighted to have some corporate volunteers from the Standard Chartered Bank, who supported our members, which enabled them to attend and thus provide feedback.

Volunteering is so rewarding and empowering and it is wonderful to see more and more corporate organisations getting involved. If you would like to find out more about volunteering for either TPT or London Vision then please do get in touch with volunteering@picklington-trust.org.uk

For me volunteering enabled me to enhance my skills, give me the confidence to believe in myself and helped me start socialising, therefore improving my mobility skills. Volunteering can bring about so many opportunities both for Disabled and Abled individuals. If you do not know where to start, then, find your passion and research organisations from various sectors and approach them, what have you got to lose? If the organisation you approach has never had a vision impaired volunteer or employee, then please do get in touch and we can certainly point you and them in the right direction.

Written by Bhavini Makwana, Activities Co-ordinator, ELVis

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East London Vision (ELVis) is the subgroup for the 7 geographical areas that naturally cover all of east London north of the Thames: • Barking and Dagenham • City and Hackney • Havering • Newham • Redbridge • Tower Hamlets • Waltham Forest. ELVis is designed to provide an effective and efficient way of ensuring that vision impaired people living in East London get the support and services they need. It is an umbrella organisation with voluntary sector, user led representation in each of the east London boroughs. Our vision is that everyone living in East London experiencing, or at risk of, any form of sight loss, receives a high quality service relevant to their need and at a time appropriate for themselves. Our aim is to enhance & link vision impaired services and organisations throughout East London, improving the quality of life for blind and partially sighted people and increasing individual independence.

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