Henshaws volunteer story: Meet Susan

Justine Watson-Smith, who manages our Enablement Team, recently interviewed Susan Fairclough, one of our volunteers. Read the interview below, to learn more about Susan: her role as a volunteer, and why she volunteers for Henshaws.

Susan started volunteering with Bolton Society for Blind People in 2008, and became a Henshaws volunteer when Bolton Society for Blind People merged with Henshaws in 2017.

What made you want to volunteer for Henshaws?

“I am visually impaired myself and so know what it’s like to have a visual impairment. I have a good knowledge of VI charities, and help that is available to visually impaired people.
I also like the idea of being able to give something back. If I can help anybody from my own experiences, I will do.”

Tell me about the tasks that you do in your volunteering role.

“At the moment, I’m doing admin in the Bolton Hub; tasks include calling Henshaws service users and conducting surveys with them to learn more about their experience of our service. I also update our database and refer people onto our Enablement and Digital Enablement services for further support if required.

I’ve previously helped out the First Step Team at Washbrook House, Henshaws’ Head Office, in Manchester.

Prior to lockdown, I assisted Justine Watson-Smith, Bolton’s Enablement Officer, with the Living Well With Sight Loss course in Bolton. I helped people to sign in, and made sure they received a warm welcome and a hot drink.

I really enjoyed helping on the LWWSL course and meeting people. I also learnt some new helpful tips and hints myself.”

How would you say your volunteer role at Henshaws helps you?

“I enjoy meeting people in person, as well as speaking on the phone. It’s always good to learn how sight loss affects other people, because even though I’m visually impaired myself, I know that everybody is affected differently.

I feel that I have grown in confidence and learnt new skills during my volunteering. I have also met lots of interesting people. I get a lot of satisfaction from helping people.

I am always surprised when people thank you for the smallest thing, when you think you’ve done nothing. Sometimes people are just so pleased to be able to talk to someone.”

What advice would you give someone who thought about volunteering, but wasn’t sure if it was for them or not?

“Give it a go, and try different roles, until you’ve found one that suits you.”

Have you felt supported throughout your time with Henshaws?

“I’ve enjoyed it. There’s always somebody you can talk to if you need help.”

In 2019, Susan was nominated by our Partnership Development Manager for a Trafford Volunteer Award and won this award for her time, skill and dedication to her voluntary role with Henshaws.

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Learn how to get involved

From fundraising events to volunteering, there are plenty of ways to give to make a difference at Henshaws

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