Lisa Frobisher was nominated to represent RNIB at the Royal Garden Party this year.
Unfortunately, the party has been postponed until next year. Not only that, she got the message after she had bought her dress for the event. Apart from her wedding dress, it's now the only dress she owns!
The good news is her ticket will be carried over to next year, so it won't be a wasted purchase. In the meantime, we wanted to find out more about what Lisa does as an RNIB volunteer.
I started off as a Connect volunteer, organising local get-togethers like a Coffee and Cake club and our Fine Dining Club; and then I found myself into fundraising in a big way because I really enjoyed what it entailed.
I get a buzz out of looking for events we can get involved in; setting up new events and being there on the day with everyone.
At Christmas time we had permits for street collections and it was so nice because no one passed you, they stopped and put money in a bucket. Five out of six weekends on the run up to Christmas I worked every Saturday and Sunday. I was shattered but I loved every minute of it and would do it again!
My volunteer manager always says he really appreciates what I've done and thanks me for coming in, and even if I feel like I've done nothing that thanks is appreciated. Since we've had to stay at home, I really miss going out to volunteer because you can go in not feeling great and within 10 minutes you're laughing and it's putting a sparkle in your day and giving you a real buzz.
At home I'm mum and a wife but when volunteering, I'm Lisa, another person.
At the time, I had young children, had recently lost my sight and had nothing else to do outside of taking them to school.
There was a post in the local Connect Facebook page to visit and review a local hydrotherapy pool. I didn't have much confidence and I spent ages wondering if I should respond. I managed to quietly say: "I'm free." And it took off from there. Now I'd be right in there! Volunteering has made such a difference to my confidence. I felt like I was in no man's land, an outcast, and it was just really, really hard.
I'm a co-ordinator for the Peterborough VI forum and it's open to anybody who is affected by sight loss.
I make cakes, we have a chat and we have speakers such as a local MP. Because of social distancing, we're now looking at having remote meetings with other local VI forums. We want to be inclusive for everybody and have found the new video chat platforms such as Zoom to be inclusive because people can call in; they don't have to have a laptop in order to join.
The person volunteering has made me.
I was so low in confidence before and it has made me much more confident and outgoing. It's helped me to help others who were feeling the same way; someone from one of our Living Well with Sight Loss courses who went on to join our local peer support groups and become a volunteer himself said that I helped him out of his shell and helped him realise that "there is a life to live".
I also helped to set up a relationship with Stagecoach and it was the start of a beautiful friendship. They spoke at the Peterborough VI forum and when I got in touch to say thank you I mentioned fundraising for RNIB.
Stagecoach had just launched an initiative of books on buses for children's books so it was perfect timing for us to mention our fundraising for Talking Books. They now sponsor a £2,500 talking book. And we had a "swap with me" visual awareness session at the local depot so the staff can understand the experience of their customers who have sight loss when travelling by bus.
Lisa has clearly worked hard to build up her confidence and self-esteem and we're grateful she chose volunteering for RNIB as one of the ways to do this.
We think our colleague Anna Hiscox, who nominated her for the Royal Garden Party, perfectly summed up Lisa's impact: "Lisa fully embodies the role of a Connect volunteer with her empathy and humour, ensuring a welcoming atmosphere that encourages others to fully engage and get involved with activities and volunteering."
Thank you Lisa, we can't wait for you to enjoy the party and wear your new dress next year!