Support and companionship for visually impaired people Ref:1593

York Blind and Partially Sighted Society is a local charity working to help people with sight problems to be independent.

Volunteers provide their time, expertise, skills and enthusiasm to help us in a variety of different ways. We could not operate without them. Our greatest need is for Home Visiting Volunteers who provide practical and emotional support, and companionship, to members who have asked for a regular befriender  to help them remain active and independent.  Volunteers provide a real life-line to help people maintain independent living skills and social contacts.

Volunteers may undertake a variety of tasks either in the home, or supporting someone to get out and about.  Though partnerships often start with a practical purpose, companionship and supportive friendship are equally important to most of the people we support.  The sort of things volunteers help with include correspondence and paperwork, reading aloud, small household tasks, shopping, visits and social activities, using the computer, choosing talking books, gardening – indeed anything that may be difficult for a blind or partially sighted person to do without some support.  We aim to support people by doing things together rather than carrying out tasks for them.  Visitors normally  visit a client regularly once a week or once a fortnight, for between two and four hours, though every partnership is based on the client’s wishes and the volunteer’s availability. Visits can take place at any time of day and any day of the week . We look for a fairly long-term relationship if possible, and aim to match each volunteer with a compatible client, taking interests, and geographical location, as well as availability, into account.

Volunteers will usually go to the clients own home which may be anywhere within the City of York. The Society will meet volunteers travel costs to the client’s home – any costs incurred while taking a client out should be met by the client.

No previous experience of working with blind or partially sighted people is necessary, but an empathy and interest in people is a must for this role. You would also be a good listener and have a non-judgmental attitude, and be ready to allow the client to make choices. It is helpful if you have your own car, though not essential.

All volunteers are required to undertake three initial training sessions to learn about working with and supporting people with a visual impairment. Ongoing support and advice, and more specialist training, is offered as required.

The Society’s offices (where training will be held) are Rougier House on Rougier Street, very easily accessible by public transport and only a few minutes walk from the railway station.

This is a wonderful opportunity to make a real difference in your community and to meet truly inspirational people!  If Home Visiting is not for you, please contact us anyway to talk about what you could offer – we welcome other skills, especially with activities, administration and fundraising support.

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