Iona Lister's story

Iona smiling, with book in one hand and a mobile held to ear

Iona Lister has been volunteering for RNIB for the past 17 years, and yet she's based hundreds of miles from the people she helps each week, read here how she does it...

"I've been volunteering for RNIB since 2002, and this involvement has brought me a lot of pleasure. When I first started, I thought that I wanted to contribute something to the charity...little did I anticipate back then how much the role would give me.

Currently, I facilitate 'Living with Sight Loss' telephone groups. Magical moments occur when participants share their stories, tips and advice; sometimes they can learn new approaches to various challenges, through friendly discussion. The content of these courses has recently been revamped by RNIB staff, Adrian and Michelle, and along with another volunteer, Cynthia. We are currently piloting these new groups; each programme comprises of six weekly group meetings over the telephone, with wide-ranging themes including relationships, benefits, gadgets and other daily living issues. Adrian is a great manager and is always there to support volunteers (whether informally or with more strategic meetings). We work closely together, planning to ensure that the participants receive the best possible outcomes, and also receive personalised help and support where appropriate.

I also facilitate monthly book groups, through the Talk and Support team, and this is great fun too. Participants share their love of reading and discuss two chosen books together over each cycle of six meetings. Everyone expands their reading horizons and some interesting discussions take place. We also have regular talks from writers, narrators and publishers which are much appreciated. Again, as a volunteer, I get great support from Thom, Ibitade, Randolph - and everyone else from Talk and Support. They work hard to coordinate the group members and make sure there is a good selection of books to experience and that everything flows smoothly. I can discuss any questions or concerns with this team, and they are so helpful.

Even after many years, I still feel a bit nervous before each session, but I would rather feel this way than become complacent or over-confident. For anyone thinking of volunteering for the RNIB, I would recommend that they find a role that suits their interests and go for it!"