Volunteers’ Week: another perspective

All week we are celebrating the fantastic contribution our volunteers make to KVIN. Today we look at this from a different perspective, our service users. We hear from them how our volunteers make a difference to the lives of people with Visual Impairments.

My name is Hajra, I attend the Dewsbury Drop-in run by KVIN to find out what’s available to help me with my deteriorating eyesight. I was recently doing some white cane training with the SKIES team and at the end of the training I asked what other services and help are available for people with visual impairments. KVIN was mentioned and it was explained that they could help with technology and gadgets. I was unsure about what to expect from KVIN and I wasn’t sure I was interested in technology, I was really looking for the support and social side of things. I did get in touch and found out about the drop-in session in Dewsbury, but I kept putting off going. It was only because one of the volunteers, Martin rang me back and asked if I wanted to come in. That helped give me the push to go and give it a try. I was given a warm welcome and offered a cuppa and felt very comfortable. Martin, Brian and Sam are KVIN volunteers who run the drop-in in Dewsbury, and I can’t thank them enough for what they have done for me. They have offered amazing support to me at a period of time when I was struggling with my sight loss. By coming to the group each week, I have been offered support, been able to have a laugh and be treated like a normal person. I have learnt about the technology available that I could make use of and now after coming for a few months I feel ready to start learning and trying it out. It’s great that I haven’t been pushed into anything, I know what is available and I can choose what I want to do at my own pace. I can’t thank Martin, Brian and Sam enough for what they have done, I don’t think they realise what a difference they have made to my life. If you are thinking about coming to KVIN, I would really recommend it, don’t put it off, just come!

My name is Sheelagh and I live in Dewsbury. I became aware that my vision was deteriorating about five years ago. After the usual battery of tests, I was diagnosed with RP. I had a very bleak few weeks. I would wake up in the morning, and the realisation that I’d lost my independence would hit me like a hammer. Then I had a call from Chris at KVIN. She suggested that I go along to a support group at Dewsbury Town Hall. I was a bit reluctant, imagining a room full of people playing braille bingo and moaning about the state of the pavements, but I had nothing better to do that day, so decided to walk into town. Not to be too dramatic about it, KVIN was life changing for me. I was welcomed warmly by Martin, a jovial and helpful guy with a wicked sense of humour. Brian, who knows everything there is to know about tech to help with sight loss, and has astonishing hidden talents, too. Then in walked Sam, a beautiful young woman with her lovely dog Tango, and later Aisha and Hajra, all of them impressive, capable women. Subsequently, through KVIN and links from KVIN, I’ve gone on to meet lots of other wonderful people. People who know the ropes. Many of them had experienced the same process of shock, denial & fear, and come out the other side. Obviously, everyone with vision loss struggles sometimes, and there are bad days, but shared experience seems to create a short cut to friendship, and the support and advice I was offered helped me enormously. A small example of practical help. I was having difficulty with paperwork. Addressing an envelope neatly or filling in a form was impossible because I couldn’t see the edges of the paper and ended up with everything on a slant. Aisha, without fuss, brought me a template. Such a small thing made a huge difference to my work and life I also really appreciate the social aspect of the group. I’m enjoying learning a new musical instrument with a mixed group of VI and non-VI friends. I’m considering joining Tandem Trekkers, and there’s a canal boat trip later this month with KVIN people and their families. There is usually something to look forward to. Even a trip to the pub after the meeting can be very good fun – I’ve found the KVIN group has quite a dark sense of humour, and we are able to talk of things that perhaps fully sighted people wouldn’t feel comfortable discussing. I now count among my friends confident, talented people, who are not defined by vision loss. People who work, volunteer, bring up kids, travel, entertain, and help others. I no longer feel quite as afraid of the future.

If you would like to find out how KVIN can help people with Visual impairments visit our Drop-in Service page or contact us.