Give a little time and make a big difference to the lives of blind and partially sighted people. Find out why our volunteers enjoy what they do.
If you volunteer with us you will be helping to improve the lives of blind and partially sighted people. You will also learn new skills, gain confidence and put your talents to use. Our latest study shows that 93 per cent of our volunteers would recommend volunteering for RNIB to others.
All sorts of people volunteer with us, people who are students, working, retired, old and young, blind and sighted. Read what Victor, Phil, Branwyn and Gill say about why they enjoy volunteering.
Give a little time, make a big difference.
Branwyn wanted to give something back after she lost her sight. Here she talks about the difference she makes to the lives of other blind and partially sighted people by facilitating telephone support groups:
"Originally I was a participant in the Talk and Support groups and thought I could be more useful on the other side of the fence. So in August 2010 I went through all the training to become a volunteer and loved it from the start.
I started by facilitating the monthly Book Club groups, but later decided to move on to the regular weekly groups where participants can talk about whatever they like. They choose the subject and I am just there in the background for any extra support they may need. The telephone groups really help some participants build confidence in themselves, and many also build up friendships outside of the groups. If participants feel isolated or are still coming to terms with their sight loss the telephone group is a way for them to socialise and talk about how they are feeling. They get support from other participants within the group.
I like to volunteer over the Christmas period when we have special groups running that any participant can join. During this time of year some people can feel particularly lonely. Some customers say that the telephone groups are the only thing they have had to look forward to all week. Sometimes the only interaction they get with people.
Apart from facilitating the group, I also refer participants on to other services that may be able to help them. I lost my sight suddenly through no fault of my own. Luckily I am very independent. I have got my own friends and a business; I can do what I want in life. Not everyone is that lucky. Volunteering is part of who I am. I feel it is important to give something back".
Victor has been volunteering with RNIB for over 40 years! Here he tells us why he enjoys being a technology support and IT specialist volunteer:
"Years ago I was a great radio listener, and one day I was listening to the In Touch program where they said the RNIB were looking for volunteers to fix talking book machines. I decided to volunteer, and I have been volunteering since then, which is about 40 years now.
My volunteering role has changed over the years and now mainly involves sorting out computers, problem solving, resolving computer related issues, providing hardware advice, and also I try and help with other technical issues, such as tuning TVs and radios. I enjoy going out, meeting new people and just chatting to them. The customers seem quite happy, and I think it makes a difference to their day.
Volunteering for the RNIB is definitely rewarding, it is challenging 'man vs. machine', trying to get the computers to do what I want."
Mairi and Janet volunteered with Action for Blind People for the Travel and Shopping Buddy pilot project in Birmingham. Watch our video to find out how they helped blind and partially sighted people gain confidence to travel and shop more independently. From March 2011 to March 2013, Action for Blind People ran the Travel and Shopping Buddy Project in Birmingham. Volunteers helped blind and partially sighted people gain confidence to travel and shop more independently in Birmingham. Hear first hand from them and the people they worked with about the great work this pilot project achieved, with the support of volunteers like Mairi and Janet.
Gill started volunteering for us after she retired. Here she tells us why she finds it rewarding to continue using her skills:
"Volunteering for RNIB enabled me to continue using skills built up over three decades as a specialist in visual impairment. I felt it would be wasteful not to carry on when my skills could be put to good use at a place like the RNIB Transcription Centre South West.
I originally started off helping in the role of music transcriber in spring 2012. Initially, I enjoyed using my music skills to prepare modified print music using the Sibelius programme. But quickly staff asked me to help with braille in a number of other ways, including adding braille and tactile images to children's books. I started with Teletubbies books and then prepared Room on a Broom, before moving on to my current project Mr Tickle. We've started getting feedback from the parents of the children and I can see from the feedback that our efforts are bringing such joy.
I really like being part of a team, playing my bit in the wide variety of things going on at Ivybridge, not all of which I can do. It's nice to see the end product coming together, it's very rewarding. I feel wanted by the team at Ivybridge and that's very important to me. I have found an area where I join my craft-making skills and my knowledge of living with sight loss together to great effect. I have also found an opportunity to start to pass on my skills to other volunteers.
I feel that I belong here; the year I have been volunteering has passed so quickly. I made the decision to retire quickly. It took a little time to adjust, but it didn't take me long to decide what I wanted to do next and where I wanted to do it".
Phil has been volunteering with RNIB as a studio reader for several years. Here he tells us why he enjoys the varied and interesting work:
"When I applied to volunteer for the RNIB in 2011, studio reading jumped off the page as an activity where I could really make a contribution. I have always loved reading, and like to think that I have a broad range of qualifications, experiences and interests which help me to interpret a wide variety of written material. My role involves reading aloud all sorts of written material, including brochures, catalogues, newsletters, magazines, journals and reports. The material is extremely varied and can range from slimming magazines to complex financial reports. Essentially I am shut in a soundproof studio for about an hour and a half at each session, operating the recording equipment and software myself.
I enjoy working with the audio team in Peterborough, they are very welcoming and supportive. The material itself is often very interesting, but of course the best thing is the knowledge that the recording is going to make a real difference to the life of a blind or partially sighted person.
How much time would I have to give? What skills do I need? How do I apply? Find out the answers to these common questions about volunteering with RNIB.