At first I just refused to admit I was losing my sight…but volunteering has changed my life

This week we hear from Henshaws group volunteer, Linda, about her experience of sight loss and how volunteering to support others changed her life…

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“I’m very proud to be the volunteer leader of one of the Friendship Matters social groups at Henshaws. It’s through Henshaws and becoming a volunteer that I’ve learnt to live with my sight loss now but this was not the case for a long time…

I turned 50 years old last year and am completely blind in one eye, with only a little, very blurred vision in the other eye. The doctors tell me that one day someone will turn off the light switch and I‘ll lose my vision altogether.

It all started when I contracted coccal meningitis at the age of 8, which led to an abscess on my brain that caused me to have a mild visual impairment.  I managed absolutely fine throughout my youth and it didn’t really impact on me. Then when I was in my early 40s I was crossing the road one day and suddenly my vision went all blurry and I could see lots of zig zag lines. I lost the sight in my right eye and the other one is slowly deteriorating.

The specialists at Manchester Royal Eye Hospital told me I had a type of glaucoma and that eventually I’ll probably be completely blind. I didn’t cope well at first, I just refused to admit to myself that I was losing my sight. I became depressed and after being a very confident person all my life I withdrew in to myself. I started seeing a Counsellor thankfully and they recommended Henshaws to me. I soon got enrolled on one of their IT courses and it really helped me turn a corner. I met loads of other people going through the same as me and that helped me to come to terms with what I was going through. I found my confidence started to return and I started feeling much better about myself.

Having been such an outgoing person before I really wanted to do something with my newly returned confidence and so a member of Henshaws staff suggested I get involved with volunteering and run a social group for other people like me. It was perfect really, I got to give back to Henshaws after they’d helped me so much and I could also do something that made me feel like me again!

I’ve been running my social group in Manchester for about 5 years now and there are 10 of us who meet once a week and go on outings to places like Southport and Blackpool. All of the group are blind or visually impaired and for many of them it is the only time in the week that they leave their house. The group gives them something to look forward to and provides crucial support.

I love volunteering for Henshaws and it’s changed my life – I can’t imagine what I’d be doing if I wasn’t running my group now. I get so much confidence from it and so much satisfaction from seeing how the members benefit. I can’t recommend it enough for anyone thinking of getting involved in volunteering – for me it helped me to feel proud of myself again and it’s so rewarding getting to support other people with sight loss. There’s so many different way you can volunteer your time so come and join Team Henshaws!”

If you would like to get involved with volunteering at Henshaws call us on 0300 222 5555 or email volunteer@henshaws.org.uk or check out the volunteering opportunities on our website. We’d love you to join us!

Do you have something to share?
Please feel free to leave a comment below or on the Henshaws Facebook page. We’d love to hear from you about your experiences too.

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Henshaws rely on voluntary donations; our work just wouldn’t be possible without people like you. Your support empowers local people living with sight loss and a range of other disabilities to increase their independence, achieve their dreams, and go beyond expectations.

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Debbie
Debbie
Debbie is Head of Content at Henshaws and is responsible for planning, producing and promoting content across our various digital channels.
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