Julie: volunteer and join us

Julie Stevens, Gloucestershire Sight Loss Council, highlights what volunteering means to her and why you should join our Sight Loss Councils.

Passionate about making a difference? What to create and influence positive change? Our Sight Loss Councils, led by blind and partially sighted volunteers, are recruiting new members.

Sight Loss Councils are led by blind and partially sighted members who used their lived experience to create positive change. Together, we tackle local issues and work with businesses and service providers to improve the accessibility of their services.

Join us to help ensure visually impaired people in your area can live the lives they want to lead.

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Video description 

Sight Loss Council member Julie is sat on a black chair facing the camera. She is wearing a red chequered dress and has bobbed brown hair. There is a Sight Loss Council banner to her right. The banner says: ‘Led by blind and partially sighted volunteers, we tackle local and national issues, and improve the accessibility of services.’ It also shows the website address: www.sightlosscouncils.org.uk

In the video, Julie is asked questions by an interviewer, Nicola, who is not shown on camera. When Nicola speaks, a white slide with dark blue text displays the question on the video.


Julie: My name is Julie Stevens and I’m from the Gloucestershire Sight Loss Council.

Nicola: What does being a Sight Loss Council volunteer mean to you?

Julie: I’m very proud to be a Sight Loss Council volunteer. I get a lot of enjoyment out of the work I’ve done. I meet some incredible people, and I really do enjoy it.

Nicola: Tell us about a Sight Loss Council project that you’ve been involved with.

Julie: I’ve been involved in a project working with Gloucester Museum. Before I was a member of the Sight Loss Council, I wouldn’t have ventured into the museum purely because to me it was totally inaccessible. If you went in, the displays would probably say, please do not touch. And other exhibits would be behind glass cabinets.

So I’ve never been into the museum, but once I joined the Sight Loss Council, they asked me to go along and have a chat with them to see if we could make it more accessible. And the ladies that we met are so engaging, they’re absolutely fantastic. They really want to make it work. So they’ve agreed to liaise with artists and students to do tactile maps, to make some tactile maps for the museum.

They are going to update their website so that it’s totally accessible, especially for screen readers. They are going to set up QR codes on their permanent exhibits so that we’ll be able to, you know, tell what they are and what they’re also doing moving forward is they’re going to – when they bring in an exhibition, at source, they’re actually going to say, well, what have you got that’s for visually impaired people. So they want something that has replicas so that we can touch them, and then they want an audio tour of the museum.

So when I look, you know, in a few years time when I look back and sort of think, well, how humbling is that, that I had a part to make that museum purely accessible for visually impaired people; it’ll be absolutely fantastic.

Nicola: Why should other blind and partially sighted people join us?

Julie: Firstly it would be that you’ll be meeting like-minded people. All of the Sight Loss Council members are visually impaired to a certain degree. You may come across someone like myself who is totally blind and has a guide dog, or you may meet someone that’s partially sighted, but we all have the same aim, and that’s to make life more inclusive for visually impaired people.

Number two would be you will have an engagement manager who is at the end of the phone, should ever you need them. When I first started with the Sight Loss Council, I was very much a mouse in the corner, wouldn’t really say anything. And goodness me, I had no idea what they were on about. But over a period of time, my engagement manager has brought me out of my shell. He’s encouraged me to do things I wouldn’t have done before and I really have the confidence now to do quite a bit with the Sight Loss Council.

Thirdly, it will be, if you are thinking of joining the Sight Loss Council, there’s so much that you can get involved in. It could be something to do like transport, so buses, trains, etc, education, health and social care. There’s a wide variety of topics that you can get involved in and it doesn’t matter how much time you’ve got on your hands, you can just do something maybe once a week or more full on. It really is tailored to fit you.

So if you are thinking of joining, don’t hesitate because I certainly don’t look back.

Nicola: Join our community.

Julie: If anyone is thinking of joining the Sight Loss Council, by all means get in touch with an engagement manager in your area or speak to another Sight Loss Council member, because I have no regrets. I thoroughly enjoy my role and I’ve learnt an incredible amount.

Nicola: Join us and become a Sight Loss Council volunteer. To find out more, visit sightlosscouncils.org.uk/join-us

Sight Loss Councils and Thomas Pocklington Trust logos.

End of transcript.

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