Paul Hopkins: volunteer and join us
Paul Hopkins, Birmingham Sight Loss Council, highlights what volunteering means to him 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.
In the video, Sight Loss Council member Paul is sat on a black chair facing the camera. He is wearing a red fleece jacket and jeans . There is a Sight Loss Council banner to his 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
A slide with blue text is shown when Paul is asked a question by the interviewer, Nicola, who is not shown on camera.
Paul: My name’s Paul Hopkins and I’m from Birmingham Sight Loss Council.
Nicola: What does being a Sight Loss Council volunteer mean to you?
Paul: I think a lot of people will say that volunteering is about what they get out of it, and of course that’s true for me. I’ve definitely done things with Sight Loss Councils that I might not have done beforehand. But I think for me it has to be about giving something back. You know, I’m middle-aged now, I guess, and had a lot of lived experience as a blind person and just felt that I do absolutely have something to give back and being able to give it in a structured way, and in a way that makes the biggest difference, I think is why I do it. That’s the main reason.
Nicola: Tell us about a Sight Loss Council project that you’ve been involved with.
Paul: In March, we held an in-person VI forum event, and I think that was the first one since lockdown sort of came and went. So it was a really important event and I think a step of faith to some extent for the Sight Loss Councils and Thomas Pocklington Trust because, you know, online is relatively easy, but actually hiring a conference room in a football stadium and inviting people, and people that would not necessarily be associated with the Sight Loss Councils as well, was really good, and I was one of the speakers for that.
So I spoke about life during lockdown, with a situation where my first guide dog died during lockdown and getting this new one that you may be able to see down here. So, that was quite a lot of life going on in a relatively short amount of time, but able to share those experiences with other people, and with other people doing other presentations, so looking at how we’re going to get back to living life again, really in the way that we used to.
Nicola: Why should other blind and partially sighted people join us?
Paul: If you want to give something back, if you feel that you’ve lived some life and you’ve got something to offer, then absolutely do it. I would say, swallow your confidence and any sense of sort of nervousness and make the application, and you will really benefit from just that process alone because people were so good even from the start to where we are now, you know, it’s consistent so you will get heard. I think the other thing I would say is that you’ve absolutely got something to offer.
Like never think that you don’t have anything to offer because just living your life every day as a vision impaired person, you are gonna have picked up some hacks, some life hacks. You’ll have experiences that will really benefit someone else somewhere along the line. And, given that there’s two million blind people in the UK and counting, it’s almost guaranteed that whatever you bring will affect quite a lot of people. So, do it.
Nicola: Join our community.
Paul: I think just come and be part of the crowd, really. It’s a driven sort of situation. You know, Sight Loss Councils are not just sitting there like not doing anything. You know, there’s lots and lots of things to get involved in, lots of things to get your teeth into, and I would highly recommend that you make that first step. And, come and join us.
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.