Laurence in the office processing USB sticks

Laurence, 67, started volunteering with RNIB in late 2017, since then he hasn’t looked back. He shares his story in his own words below.

If you have some spare time on your hands and thinking about doing something different which is worthwhile and rewarding why not be a volunteer for the RNIB even if it’s only a few hours a week like me?

I never thought about it until I retired in 2017. Although I have many projects on the go, I thought why not? So, in the latter part of 2017 I became a volunteer in Ivybridge and "wow" it’s truly amazing what’s produced here. Of course, there are many aspects to the centre each producing great things via technology and commitment from volunteers.

What part do I play? It’s simple really. Each Monday and Friday morning I work from the office processing USB sticks and packing them. What’s it all about? Well, with the help of a computer I update USB sticks which have been returned by blind or partially sighted people. Each stick has its own ID number relating to each person. The computer can identify what new stories to update when the stick is put in the computer ports. Once this is done the sticks are taken out and labels are printed out automatically with the person’s name, address and individual ID number. Then the labels are transferred to a RNIB card, the cards are placed into a plastic wallet with the updated USB stick and all the wallets are packed into crates ready for collection by the post office. It’s a simple process thanks to technology it’s just a matter of application.

It's important to point out that everyone enjoys what we do here and has a great sense of humour and sense of purpose. Volunteers come from all walks of life so you never get tired of all the stories they share. Most of all they fulfil a common goal that brings happiness and possibilities otherwise ignored. By building these relationships, I believe it gives each individual confidence to explore their own dramas and aspirations, a catalyst for talent untapped.

Finally when I walk out the door its very satisfying that as many as three or four hundred people will receive their new talking books. What’s better than that?