“I am not just making a difference in a single day, it is long term”
Fanny Martin is a RNIB volunteer who talks about looking for volunteering outside of working hours and the fulfilment she finds in her role with the youth group in Edinburgh.
“I started volunteering in September 2022. I work full time and was looking for volunteering roles outside of my working hours. RNIB Scotland were looking for a volunteer to help them with the Youth Group in Edinburgh. The youth club is run on a weekly basis, every Wednesday for two hours.
The Club happens just after school and we have a range of kids and teenagers that attend. This is the occasion for them to enjoy community, do activities such arts and craft or football. So, I help RNIB organise and be there for them, trying to ensure we have activities lined up that work for them, depending on abilities and who wants to do what on that day as there is a wide range of different personalities and interests. It is not many hours, but I really enjoy it and the group is so important to the members.
We split activities between those who want to do a little bit more sporty type of activity like going to the park and doing football or playing with the swings. Others prefer arts and crafts and we have things like weaving baskets, sculpting and baking. Some of the members enjoy tactile activities where they get to create with their hands and using their imagination. If an activity is a little difficult for some of them to do, I see so much support between the members. This is a very tightknit group and if someone is struggling to do an activity, they support and encourage each other. It is a true community that comes together to support anyone struggling in any way everyone is included, even if it's just to listen or to guide their hand. This inclusivity and support are really inspiring to be a part of, many would benefit from such an experience.
We also have the summer program when school is off, where we have four full days of activity. We organise events such as going to the Zoo, making chocolate at a Chocolate Factory and pottery. Whenever we go somewhere, everyone really makes the best of the experience. Anyone who wants it to do something like this would be so welcome because we need enough volunteers to do certain activities and to give each child and young person the attention they deserve.”
Fanny was asked why and how she started volunteering at RNIB.
“I am a bank manager and mostly work at home with a laptop, so I was looking at things that I could do outside of work where I could feel like I was making a direct difference for people. It can be difficult to go to a charity without much knowledge. When I found this opportunity online I thought it would be such a great thing to do and I got to chat with Dan Meikle and other people from the charity. They really recommended the community feel and organisation at RNIB, which really convinced me that this was the right place. Since I've started, I agree this is exactly what was promised, and I think RNIB is such a great charity. I cannot recommend it enough, especially the sense of community that they provide and the difference they make. I see it on a weekly basis for the kids. This volunteering is also a role where I experience continuity, I am not just making a difference in a single day, it is long term.
My favourite experience as an RNIB volunteer is anytime I see someone do or make something they didn't think they were capable of doing in the first place, or opening up to new experiences, it is so fulfilling to see. This is the objective.”