Good gadgets and great volunteers at Kirklees Visual Impairment Network

Posted on the 7th June 2019

My name is Sam, I am a single parent and guide dog owner. I was registered blind in 2011 due to the degenerative condition Retinitis Pigmentosa.

I became involved with Kirklees Visual Impairment Network (KVIN) in 2017 after attending a session and being pleasantly surprised by the welcome I received and the progressive ethos of the organisation.

I started off volunteering as the organisations Social Media Admin before moving into a Peer Support role six months later. In the Peer Support role, I can use my own experiences of adapting to life with vision loss to advise and support others.

From attending KVIN drop-ins I have learnt more about apps that that benefit the daily lives of people with visual impairments, for example an app that can read out bus times or one that can read out your mail. In my role as Peer Supporter I can pass on information like this to service users.

I have also had the chance to develop my skills by doing some training into website building. An additional benefit of volunteering for KVIN is that it’s become more than a work-related activity. It has enhanced my personal life too. I have made some amazing friends amongst my fellow volunteers and service users, living with sight loss isn’t always easy but we can support each other.

I am looking for work so volunteering will of course benefit my CV, whilst being flexible to fit around my family commitments.

Sam Heaton, Volunteer, Kirklees Visual Impairment Network 

Sam and her dog

Kirklees Visual Impairment Network (KVIN) is a small user-led charity based in West Yorkshire.

Our team of volunteers, the majority of which have Visual Impairments, deliver our drop-in service where we offer support and training in the use of various technologies and gadgets. These can benefit the lives of people with Visual impairments. The sessions also offer social and emotional support for people who are often dealing with sight loss in their lives.

At KVIN, volunteers are central to our work, our volunteers guide the work we do, help plan it and then deliver it. They know what people with Visual impairments need and that means we can tailor our services.

We have been delighted to have Sam on board our team. Since taking on the role of Social Media Admin, our Facebook and Twitter pages have grown in popularity and have helped us reach more people. Because Sam knows what it’s like to access social media as a blind person, she can make sure our social media is accessible. She has been able to do the same with our website.

The social media role is one we can allow Sam to fulfil on a flexible basis to fit around her busy family life and other commitments. This is ideal for us as an organisation and works for Sam too.

This year KVIN are celebrating the contributions of all our volunteers during Volunteers’ Week. We are always thankful for all our volunteers help but the week gives us the opportunity to make a special thanks.

Its people like Sam who give their time how they can that make our organisation and without them the organisation wouldn’t exist.

Volunteer Coordinator

Claire Drake coordinates volunteers and events at Kirklees Visual Impairment Network

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