Patricia “Trish” has volunteered for Sight Life for over 10 years now.
Trish’s sight loss was an unexpected complication from diabetes at age 49. She was told she was losing sight in her left eye and would soon lose sight within a year.
Immediately, Trish panicked and began to spiral, worried about giving up her job and struggled to access support to deal with her diagnosis. She felt lost and didn’t know where to go or what to do.
Finding Sight Life
Trish was referred to Sight Life by our Eye Clinic Liaison Officer and a previous volunteer, Gill, got in touch with her. Trish struggled to ask for help, but she enjoyed her weekly chats with Gill and always picked up the phone. Gill suggested that Trish should attend a meeting at the Civic Centre in Swansea, where she met our Swansea Locality Manager, Anita Davies.
Meeting others with sight loss instantly made Trish feel like she belonged somewhere. Her friends and family offered some support, but she really needed to speak with people who were going through similar experiences. At these meetings, Trish found a community of people who understood her and what she was going through. In her words, “it was the best thing to happen to me!”
When Trish thought she was at her lowest, she believes Anita saw something in her. After she started to feel settled, Trish knew she wanted to help others and feel needed.
Trish quickly found her feet and began to volunteer with Sight Life, leading several different social and activity groups. She runs an extremely popular Tea and Chat group in Swansea and several talks around central issues for people with sight loss, such as shopping, travel, transport, and getting out and about. As she says, no question is too small or silly!
Trish’s decided to set up a monthly Tea and Chat meeting at Hazel Court, Swansea, for people who are unable to get out and about to her meetings in the town centre. Trish understands how the pandemic continues to affect some individuals’ ability to leave the house, so she offers a way for people to safely meet and socialise with others.
Sight Life was Trish’s first volunteering experience, and she says, “I love every minute of it!” She works on the office phone, working on the contact line and as a befriender to encourage people to go to meetings. Trish loves to chat and build a rapport with different members, some of whom she has spoken with all throughout the pandemic.
If you are thinking of volunteering, Trish says, “go for it!” She says volunteering has given her a purpose to get up and ready every morning.
She continues to be inspired by other Sight Life members who have been blind since birth and how well they manage life with sight loss. Since being diagnosed, she says, “it has been the best 10 years of my life. I feel like I’m finally me.”
If you would like to get involved like Trish, get in touch with us at [email protected] or call 029 2039 8900.