Getting out and about thanks to local charity

Living with sight loss or hearing loss can be challenging. The simplest of tasks can seem difficult and sometimes you find yourself doing less, or even stopping activities that you have enjoyed in the past – but that doesn’t need to be the case!

Visibility, based at Nithbank, Dumfries have been helping a local woman from Annan, living with both sight and hearing loss, to get out and about with help from a volunteer. This volunteer support is part of the Dumfries and Galloway council funded ‘Out and About’ project.

Lindsay McDowall, Service Manager of the project explains “We have a team of dedicated, trained volunteers who can be matched with local people living with sight loss, hearing loss or dual sensory loss to help them get out. One of these people is Mrs Isobel Clark, of Annan. Isobel has both sight loss and hearing loss. When she heard about the initiative last year, Isobel was keen to learn more and was delighted to be offered the opportunity to get out and about locally with the support of a volunteer.”

Mrs Clark was matched with volunteer Valerie Bolton. They enjoy taking walks into town, visiting the shops and have been to the local garden centre. This really helped Isobel’s confidence and increased her independence meaning she doesn’t have to rely on her family and friends so much.

Isobel said: “I enjoy the company and being able to chat to other people and it also gives my husband his own time too.”

There are so many more opportunities available to Mrs Clark now and she and Valerie hope to venture further afield and take the train to Carlisle soon.

Being able to support someone with sight loss to become more confident, mobile and independent is a very rewarding experience, as Valerie explains;

“Volunteering with Visibility is one of the most worthwhile things I have ever done. If people realised what a difference even half an hour would make, they would volunteer. Isobel and I have lots in common and we never stop chatting, I thoroughly enjoy it!”

Allison McCourt, Volunteer Support Worker at Visibility, said: “We are looking for caring volunteers like Valerie to assist with this exciting project across Nithsdale, Annandale & Eskdale. As little as an hour or two of your time a week can help reduce loneliness and isolation, giving people with sight and hearing loss the support to get out and about locally.

“Whether it’s getting out to the shops, going for a coffee or getting along to support your local football team, our approach is flexible and our aim to help support people living with sensory loss to lives their lives fully, confidently and independently.

“If you can help us meet these goals and make a difference to the lives of local people who may be struggling with a recent diagnosis or deteriorating condition, we’d love to hear from you.”

Visibility’s See Hear Project can provide information, the chance to meet other people, learning opportunities and practical support to people living with sight, hearing or dual sensory loss right across Dumfries & Galloway. Full training and on going support is provided to volunteers and expenses are reimbursed. This volunteer support is funded by Dumfries & Galloway Council.