Our telephone groups are hosted by our team of dedicated volunteers who undertake the role and training from home. Over 130 volunteer, many of whom have sight loss themselves, help to bring people together for valuable social contact and peer support.
Depending on their role and availability, volunteers offer anywhere from one hour to six hours of their time a week. Volunteers are involved in all aspects of the service.
It's very important to us that our volunteers feel comfortable and confident in their volunteer roles.
To help all volunteers to enjoy their roles we have training programmes to prepare everyone. Training for home-based volunteer roles takes place over the telephone usually with a small group of other volunteers.
As a volunteer you’ll receive individual support from the Talk and Support team once you are in your role.
We recruit new volunteers to a variety of roles throughout the year. For more information about our volunteer vacancies please email [email protected], or contact RNIB Volunteering on 0845 603 0575 or 01733 375450.
"I really enjoy working for or with my group, I find this role rewarding. One of my ladies, who is unable to go out because of her health, said once that she looks on her weekly chats with friends like a meeting-up time, and she always makes sure she's showered and dressed well for the occasion! I thought that was really cool."
"The bit that I really did enjoy was the training. It was all done over the phone, which was absolutely brilliant because I was able to stay at home. The training was actually quite intensive, but what I enjoyed about it was that it was extremely friendly, although professional. Some of the subjects we had to cover were things like Equal Opportunities, which was extremely interesting. I thoroughly enjoy being a facilitator and, like I say, if it wasn't for the training I think I would have found it a lot more difficult than I actually do."
Bob gives an hour of his time each week to facilitate a weekly telephone social group from home. He helps a group of six elderly ladies with similar interests from across the UK to meet together and enjoy a lively conversation:
"If I feel that one of the ladies isn't saying much I can draw her into the conversation. If the conversation starts to dry up I can suggest subjects for them to talk about. I just enjoy the whole experience really. It's what the ladies get from it that makes me happy. When some of the ladies say that this their favourite hour of the week, which means such a lot to me personally that it makes it all worthwhile. You know it's really a lifeline for them. It's brilliant; it's the best thing I've ever done."
Kanta facilitates a Telephone Book Club from home. The group of eight participants are from different parts of the UK and come together once a month to exchange their ideas and enthusiasm for books and reading. Kanta helps the group to select books to read and then facilitates the group's discussions about the books. She also chairs guest speaker sessions:
"The sessions are fun, friendly, stimulating and interesting, as participants share their thoughts, views, opinions and feelings. To be a book group facilitator, one must love reading because it's all about reading books. As the facilitator, I become part of the group experience and build a relationship with the group. I enjoy meeting the participants over the phone. They come from all corners of the UK. Once, whilst we were reading a war time book, two participants suddenly realised, as were talking, that they had been in the same part of the country during the war, but they had never met until they joined the book group. It was wonderful to listen to their experiences and they have made a wonderful friendship."
"As one of the Call Back volunteers, I am responsible for initiating contact between Talk and Support and potential participants. This is the most enjoyable aspect of my voluntary work with RNIB, as it enables me to spend time talking with and getting to know our clients. It's extremely sad, but the majority of participants equate their sight loss with not only a loss of independence or in some cases, their working lives, but an end to their lives as they knew them. It is easy to see why someone might feel this way, but this is where Talk and Support comes in. Talking with participants prior to joining the service, allows the team to match them into a suitable group, which over time, usually helps to alleviate many of the negative feelings that participants tell us they experience."
"My second role within Talk and Support, also puts me in contact with participants. This time though, I get to hear their enthusiasm and eagerness to be connected to their friends. In fact, the one complaint we get on a pretty-much daily basis is "can't we have five more minutes please?" I think this statement is one of the best endorsements for the service, and the fantastic work that the team and our volunteers do, whether by giving their time to facilitate groups or working in the office to maintain the framework that makes Talk and Support such a lifeline for so many."