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Interview

Volunteer voice: interview with Victoria Gray

Any organisation is formed, influenced and representative of the people involved, and especially in the case of a people-focused charity like Sight Support Worthing. We’re planning to introduce you to a wide range of the people that make Sight Support Worthing the wonderful community it is. We’ll be chatting with members, staff, trustees and volunteers.

It’s with a volunteer that we kick the series off. Here’s Victoria, who has recently started volunteering for us.

Name: Victoria Gray

Age: 26

Where do you live: Shoreham-by-Sea

Have you always lived in the same place?

I was born in Shoreham-by-Sea and it has always been my home town, however I have also been at a residential school and college. I went away to study at New College Worcester from the age of 11 for 7 years. This is a school for the blind. After this I went to The Royal National College for the Blind for 2 years. I found it hard living away from home as I missed my family and I have always loved Shoreham-by-Sea.

How long have you been volunteering with Sight Support Worthing (SSW)?

I have only  recently started volunteering. I would like to be involved in the things that SSW do as I am totally blind myself so I feel very passionate about meeting other people with sight loss and helping to make things accessible.

What activities (whether now or pre-Covid) have you enjoyed at SSW?

SSW have recently started running Chair Yoga sessions which I have really enjoyed. Yoga is very good for relaxation and I find I get a lot out of it because I struggle a lot with my balance which makes Chair Yoga the easiest form of Yoga for me to do.

Is there an activity or social group you’d like SSW to start?

Book Group where members could come together and discuss what they are reading.

Quizzes

Walking group where we could go for a walk and maybe get a pub lunch after.

Tandem Riding

Which of SSW’s other services or support have you used?

I haven’t used any other services but this is something I would like to do and as a volunteer I would like to help in any way I can.

What do you love about living where you do?

I love the community feel. It’s nice to live somewhere where people look out for each other. I also love living by the sea.

How do you spend your free time?

Socialising with friends

Gaming

Reading

Yoga

Choir

Drama workshops

Tell us an amazing fact about yourself! 

I have recently started helping to run a book group for the RNIB. It is the first ever group that I have helped to run and it feels like a great achievement. I sometimes get a bit anxious so being able to help run a group and bring people together is such a wonderful feeling and I love being able to help people to connect with each other.

Thanks, Victoria; how brilliant it is to have you on-board as a volunteer! Victoria’s input as someone with sight loss will be of great benefit to the team as they develop services and activities for members. Look out for Victoria when the Centre reopens in the coming months.

Are you a volunteer or member of Sight Support Worthing and would like to be featured in our interviews, you can email Emily.

Of course we’re always keen to welcome new members and volunteers. Do get in touch if you’d like to find out more.

The benefits of volunteering

Sight Support Worthing couldn’t function as well as we do without the amazing help and support of our volunteer Sight Supporters. They undertake a range of valuable tasks for us, and they get a real feel-good factor from helping our clients! Each volunteer has their own reasons for giving their time and energy to us, and chances are some of those are listed  below. Take a look at some of the brilliant benefits of becoming a volunteer: 

Make a difference – yes, there’s no denying it: you will make a difference to everyone involved in Sight Support Worthing or wherever you choose to volunteer. Some days it might be small and help one person, other days you might do something that helps a whole crowd. Either way, you will affect someone, somehow in a positive way.

Gain confidence and build self-esteem – not all of us are as confident as we’d like, and volunteering is a great way to remedy this. Once you start volunteering you’ll begin to get a sense of accomplishment and pride in your achievements, especially when you see the difference you’re making to others. Your confidence and sense of achievement will be boosted even higher if your volunteer role takes you out of your comfort zone. 

This self-assurance will then spill over into other areas of your life so you’ll feel more confident and positive at home or work. If you’re shy, putting yourself into unknown (but hopefully welcoming) situations can condition you to find them less scary. Win-win.

Create new connections – whether you come away with a brand new best friend or find somewhere to have a regular chat with friendly faces, you’ll form new connections with like-minded people. If you’re someone who finds life a little lonely at times, volunteering is an excellent way to combat this. Choose somewhere to volunteer where you’ll be amongst people and you’ll be part of a whole new community.

Makes you happier – as humans we’re wired to want to help others, so the brain reacts well to situations when it knows you’re doing that, and makes you feel happier. Choosing a volunteering opportunity that’s right for you will also mean you spend that time having fun – and who doesn’t want an extra bit of fun in their life?!

Sense of purpose – most people choose to volunteer for an organisation or issue that is important to them. By giving your time and energy for free, and helping others achieve something, you’ll be boosting your sense of purpose and with it your feelings of happiness.  Studies have shown that volunteering can help with depression, anxiety and other negative feelings by providing that regular sense of purpose and a positive reason to get up and out of the house.

Help with your career – volunteering offers opportunities to learn new skills and many of those will be transferable to other aspects of life including work. It’ll also show any employer that you go above and beyond and take time to help others; who wouldn’t want someone like that working with them? Volunteering is especially good if you’re lacking in work experience as it can provide you with new skills and proof of attributes that can then be added to a CV or used as examples in job interviews. Say you’d like to work in admin… find a volunteering role that will see you helping out with filing, perhaps doing a stock inventory, or maybe sorting out mail. The more you help out, the more you will learn.

So if you score one or more of these benefits while volunteering, you’re on to a winner. Perhaps you’re already volunteering and can add to our list of benefits? What do you gain from being a volunteer? 

We’re always on the lookout for people like you to help us in volunteer roles. Take a look at our web page dedicated to volunteering opportunities at Sight Support Worthing or get in touch for a chat.