Monday, 20 May 2024
Monday, 20 May 2024

Charity warns of volunteer shortage’s impact on blind people in Fife

A charity that supports people across Fife with sight loss has issued a plea for volunteers to help tackle the isolation and loneliness associated with being blind or partially sighted.

Seescape, formerly Fife Society for the Blind, said the shortage of volunteers was having a ‘devastating impact’ on people with sight loss across Fife. The charity runs weekly groups and activities for people with sight loss to get together, have fun and make new friends.

But Seescape, a charity supporting more than 3500 people every year in Fife, is struggling to find enough volunteers to run the groups, support people who come along, and help with transport.

It means people who are blind or partially sighted – some of the most isolated in the community already – are unable to take part in activities and events that help them live their lives to the full.

Seescape is appealing for volunteers to help run their social group in Kirkcaldy, help with a new walking group in Dunfermline, and to act as befrienders to people who are lonely or isolated because of sight loss.

Bob MacDonald, who is 94, comes to the Kirkcaldy social group every fortnight. Bob has macular degeneration and only has peripheral vision. While he has had to stop playing golf, Bob is determined to keep getting out and about and making the most of life.

The social group hosts fortnightly meetings, outings, and activities, including quizzes, talks, museum visits, trips to Anstruther and Burntisland, as well as music and entertainment.
Around 15 people come along to the activities – but the group has recently lost two volunteers, making it harder to put on events.

Bob, a former RAF man said ‘life would be poorer’ without the group. He said:

“I really enjoy it. I would miss it if it wasn’t there.

“It’s nice to be part of a group where we all have things in common. There are some excellent events and talks – the volunteers are remarkable and really helpful.

“I look forward to going – there is always something different.”

Ian Sloan, who is 78, has volunteered at Seescape for two years, setting up and running the social group in Kirkcaldy. He said:

“Everyone is so happy and cheery when they come. It is a great interaction and social mix for both volunteers and group members.

“It helps develop new friendships and we have had some lovely times together.”

Ian, whose career took in community education and being a councillor for Fife council, added:

“You can’t beat volunteering to get new skills and experience, and having a job isn’t a barrier to volunteering. There are lots of roles you can do.

“I find it so rewarding. It is fulfilling and you feel appreciated. I have made new friends, met new people and kept my mind and body active.”

Lesley Carcary, Seecape’s chief executive, said:

“Our clients often tell us that loneliness, isolation and not being able to get out and about and enjoy things is the hardest things about sight loss. We are here to help people live their lives to the full, make friends and boost their confidence, but we rely on our volunteers to make that happen.

“But a shortage of volunteers is having a devastating impact on people with sight loss. It makes it harder to connect with the wider community, have fun or keep up with passions and interests.

“People missing out on opportunities because of a lack of volunteers is devastating for us.

“Volunteering is a wonderful way to meet new people, boost your skills and give back to your community. If you can spare an hour or two a week, we would love to hear from you.”

To find out more about becoming a volunteer, please contact Seescape on: 01592 644 979.

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