Steve is one of our long-standing volunteers and service users at Sight Life from Rhondda Cynon Taff (RCT). He started experiencing sight loss 12 years ago after a series of mini strokes, which caused him to lose his sight in his right eye and only see limited shapes and objects in his left.
Steve worked and was very active with family and friends before he lost his sight. Yet after his diagnosis, Steve felt his life was over. He was too afraid to leave the house alone and had a limited support network. Unfortunately, he suffered several bereavements during this time and his friends didn’t know how to help him. He had little support and didn’t know where to turn. Steve was told he “slipped through the net” – luckily, Sight Life was there to catch him!
Discovering Sight Life
With his daughter, Steve looked online for help and found Sight Life, or Cardiff Institute for the Blind as it was called at the time. Sight Life put him in touch with social services so he could access the support he needed. Steve met with a Rehab Officer, Ian Moran, who encouraged his confidence through cane training. Ian helped him with navigating his usual routes by bus and foot to increase his independence. Thanks to Sight Life, Steve was able to gain access key guidance so he could begin to manage life as a partially sighted individual.
Our Locality and Development Manager, Carys Groves, was central to Steve’s introduction to Sight Life. He calls her his “angel” who has helped him to no end. “She always seems to know the answer to any of his problems and is always looking out for us at RCT”. They worked with his local leisure centre to train the gym and pool staff on sight loss awareness and adaptations were made to allow Steve to access all facilities. Over the years, Steve has taken part in a huge range of activities including cycling, hockey, football, bowling, arts & crafts, archery and bushcraft.
Carys is integral to Steve’s journey with Sight Life and inspired him to start volunteering for us himself.
Volunteering for Sight Life
Steve began to volunteer for Sight Life just before the pandemic began in 2020. He was very active in keeping our contact line going and ensured our most isolated members had someone to talk to throughout lockdown. He spoke with several people, young and old, who were experiencing sight loss. This massively built his confidence, and in his own words, “made me feel I wasn’t alone – I was just one of hundreds of people who had lost their sight and it was nothing to be afraid of.” Volunteering kept him busy and helped him get out of the house to meet and talk to new people every day once lockdown subsided.
We are so grateful for volunteers like Steve who become key members of the team and offer fantastic support to everyone working at Sight Life.