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A big shout out to our volunteers: Ansley’s blog

Our world has been turned upside down in the last few months and we have all had to adapt to different ways of doing things. What has not changed though is the dedication and passion of our volunteers, whose time, enthusiasm, skills and knowledge have been essential in helping us continue to support the blind and partially sighted community.

Some volunteers have been extremely busy and have been able to give even more of their time whilst others have unfortunately not been able to carry on with their usual work. I would like to thank all of you for your continued support and celebrate what you do during Volunteers’ Week (June 1st-7th).

Volunteers are the backbone of much of our work at RNIB Cymru. During lockdown this work has been more important than ever. From campaigning to transcription services, from giving advice on assisted technology to wellbeing calls – volunteers have made an incredible impact when it has mattered most.

We have campaigned for accessible formats so that blind and partially sighted people can receive information about Covid-19 and we have campaigned for access to priority shopping slots for people with sight loss. Sadly, we have also had to draw attention to the prejudice that blind and partially sighted people face from those who do not understand how difficult social distancing can be for people with sight loss. Our volunteers are crucial to this work.

Some blind and partially sighted people have not left the house at all during lockdown due to the difficulty of social distancing. As restrictions are easing, many still feel like they must stay inside. For many people,  audiobooks have been a lifeline. This shows the importance of the continued work of our transcription services in both English and Welsh. Newspapers being transcribed has been especially important as a means of providing blind and partially sighted people with accessible information. For this we thank our transcription service volunteers who have been working so tirelessly.

Getting advice on how to use assistive technology has also made a big impact on people’s lives. Thanks to our volunteers, blind and partially sighted people across Wales are still able to learn how to use devices and apps to stay connected.

People giving their own time to break down barriers for blind and partially sighted people is inspirational. In what has sometimes felt like a dark time, seeing people continue to help one another gives me hope.

These have been tough times, but we want to thank our volunteers for all their incredible work, and we hope we can continue to support them to develop and enjoy what they do well into the future.

We must not forget the blind and partially sighted community who may feel confined to their homes as we get back to “the new normal” and with our incredible volunteers we will do all we can to make sure that the community is not left behind.