Hi, I’m Mark and I first joined as a Sightline volunteer early in 2020 soon after the first lock-down came into force due to the Covid 19 pandemic. I had been furloughed from work and found myself with time on my hands.
I was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa at the age of 7 and am registered blind so can really empathize with service users who call Sightline for help. I can relate to many of the issues facing someone living with sight loss or a visual impairment and provide a friendly ear for them, offer advice, sign-post to other services and just be there to listen.
I currently speak with 3 different service users on a weekly basis, all of whom are faced with different challenges physically and mentally. The 2 male service users are in their forties; one who has been blind from birth and the other has limited vision. My newest befriending relationship is speaking with a lady in her fifties. She is currently receiving treatment with injections in both eyes for progressive blindness. I am keen to help as she progresses with her treatment; talking through any anxieties and apprehension she might have.
“I really feel my own personal experience of sight loss helps people a lot and I like to
let them know they aren’t alone. I often tell them not to forget their other 4 senses and
to make full use of them to enjoy life to the full.“
Being able to share experiences and help others is just so rewarding. Each service user is experiencing a variety of challenging stations in their daily lives. Talking through these, offering advice and support and in turn creating positive experiences is so beneficial for both parties.
My favourite befriending memory so far must be the moment one of my befriendees secured a DJ spot on a radio station. I make sure I tune in each week – he always plays a great set!
I wouldn’t hesitate recommending volunteering with Sightline. You can really make a difference to someone living with sight loss.
Without the help of our dedicated team of volunteers like Mark, we couldn’t offer our unique telephone befriending service. If you would like to take your first steps volunteering with us, we’d love to hear from you. Call 0800 587 2252 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.
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(*0800 numbers are free to call from BT landlines and most mobile networks)