Volunteering has changed my life … thanks to the lovely Barbara from @BeaconCentre @NCVOVolunteers #volunteersweek

A lovely story to celebrate what Volunteers Week is all about

“My name is Barbara and I came to the Beacon Centre sight loss charity through Dudley Mind as a service user in May 2016 after recently being diagnosed with Macular degeneration and Glaucoma.

It got me out the house and helped me to gain confidence to be around other people, I started one day a week at the day centre in Stourbridge and ended up going in 4 days a week – I enjoyed it that much. I became a member of Stourbridge Blind and enjoy their monthly meetings, giving me an opportunity to go out at night and enjoy occasional meals out.

 After realising the support I could give despite my sight loss I was asked if I would like to become a volunteer, I now volunteer four days a week Monday to Thursday in the day centre in Stourbridge helping other people with sight loss to do various activities such as crafts, games, knitting and card making.

I have set up a knitting group and service users are helping to knit squares to make into blankets, these are being donated to local care homes on behalf of the Beacon.

Occasionally I come in on a fifth day as well to help with administration, programs and phone calls. I’ve even started having art lessons from another volunteer at the centre, I have found this very relaxing and I’m enjoying learning someone thing new.

I also volunteer with the Link-Line project where I telephone befriend visually impaired clients once a week to offer friendship and support.  We had an open day last year which I helped organise and decorated the centre with service users’ work. I was also there on the day to talk to people to give information about our services.

My passion is crafts and I have used this to my ability to help raise funds for the centre, by selling the items I have made and donating the money to the centre. We are now past £1,150 which is continually growing on our fundraising chart and we are always coming up with new ideas to continue to raise funds in the coming months.

This has been my way of giving back to the Beacon for the support they’ve given me, not only within myself but help at home too.

I enjoy my volunteering because it’s given me a new lease of life, I don’t feel like I want to end it anymore, my confidence has gone from 10 per cent to 100 per cent and I’m feeling much better in myself.

I have made lots of good friends by coming to the Beacon and would be lost without the support from the staff and other volunteers.

I have come across challenges while volunteering due to my sight loss however this has made me aware that there are a lot of people in the same situation as me and by helping each other and adapting the way we do things anything is possible.

Through volunteering I have personally achieved several of my goals which has not only made myself feel happier but has also made my family very proud of what I’ve achieved.

Volunteering has changed my life and for anyone out there that wants to volunteer DO IT as it could change your life as well!”

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