Celebrating the amazing work of our volunteers

This week, Volunteers’ Week (3 to 9 June 2024) is celebrating 40 years of dedication and the amazing work and achievements of volunteers across England.   

Sight Loss Council (SLC) volunteers from approximately 25 Sight Loss Councils are joining charities nationwide to mark this momentous occasion.   

Along with commending volunteers on their hard work and dedication, we will be raising awareness of volunteering opportunities available and the benefits of becoming a volunteer. 

Gill Currie, Kelly Barton, Rachael Foley, photographed laughing together during the retail project session.

Volunteers pictured with Kelly Barton, Engagement Manager for North West, during the 2023 SLC conference

What are Sight Loss Councils? 

Sight Loss Councils, funded by Thomas Pocklington Trust (TPT), are regional groups led by blind and partially sighted volunteers. Our 171 volunteers use their lived experience to create positive change for others. 

This includes tackling local issues and working with partners to increase accessibility around public transport, built environment, health and fitness, retail, leisure, arts and culture. 


Due to the success of our volunteers, TPT has expanded the SLC model wider across England. This is from our first SLC established in 2017 to around 25 volunteer-led SLCs across the country. There are also plans for further expansion in priority regions, and we have worked with partners to launch our first SLC in Scotland.

Thomas Pocklington Trust’s Director of Services, Emma Hughes, said:

“On behalf of everyone at Thomas Pocklington Trust I wanted to say a huge thank you to all of our Sight Loss Council volunteers. For your hard work, your passion, and your commitment to influence change for blind and partially sighted people.

“Over this last year you have achieved remarkable changes in numerous projects around transport, the built environment, health and fitness, arts and culture, and retail.

“Without you, we would not have the voice of blind and partially sighted people at the heart of our work. Thank you. We all think you are amazing.”

Something to celebrate 

Our volunteers get involved in extensive projects up and down the country. Here are some highlights of the amazing work of our valued volunteers over the past year around access to public transport, health and our streets. 

Mystery shopping buses and trains to identify priority areas 

  • 84 volunteers carried a mystery shopping exercise on buses and trains with 17 service providers on 86 different routes. They also mystery shopped 19 different train routes to inform their future work to #MakeTransportAccessible to blind and partially sighted people. 

Making train stations more accessible 

Improving street design and reducing street obstacles 

Reducing the impact of e-bikes and e-scooters on our streets 

Volunteer highlights 

We asked our volunteers to share some of their key highlights with us. Here’s a selection from over the last year. 

Tackling dangerous bus stops 

Haren, South West London SLC, said: 

“Achievements include persuading Wandsworth Borough Council to cancel planned floating bus stops [where people have to cross a cycle lane to get the bus] and to commit to the principles of our e-bike charter.

“Furthermore, I, along with my SLC colleagues had a ’walkthrough’ session with the council’s engineering department. This enabled us to provide direct feedback on walkway and cycle lane design options, which received a positive reaction from one of our local Members of Parliament, Marsha de Cordova.”

Vicky, South West London SLC volunteer, crossing a zebra crossing on a 'floating bus stop'. Fellow SW London volunteer, Harry is pictured on the path alongside a representative from Wandsworth Council.

South West London SLC volunteers during an accessibility audit of floating bus stops

Learn more about South West London SLC’s work


Encouraging people to get more active for their physical and mental health 

Gill, Greater Manchester SLC, said:

“My highlight is volunteering at the Let’s Get Active have a go day, where we encourage other blind and partially sighted people to take part in sports, whether as an individual or part of a team.”


Participant Michael, is shown standing next to the net, swinging his tennis racket up, during the VI tennis session.

A participant playing VI Tennis at Greater Manchester SLC’s ‘Let’s Get Active’ event

Find out more about the Manchester Let’s Get Active event

Making health accessible 

Emma, West of England SLC:  

“The highlight for me is helping make our local hospital more accessible, not only in person but online. Team work makes the dream work!”

Emma Blackmore and Anela Wood pictured together at an NBT volunteer event where they spoke about their work with the trust. They are both looking and smiling at the camera, and holding their long canes.

West of England SLC volunteers, Emma and Anela, during a North Bristol NHS Trust (NBT) event

Read more about our work with NBT


Making train stations accessible 

Vicky, London SLC, said: 

“It was great to be able to trial Aira at my local station, Sutton….  All reported a feeling of empowerment and independence that the assistance guidance brought to them.” 

Vicky Blencowe, South West London SLC member, pictured at London Blackfriars train station. She is facing the camera, and holding her smartphone in her hand, whilst on the phone to an AIRA representative.

Vicky, South West London SLC volunteer, during the Aira trials at London Blackfriars

Learn more about our work on Aira


Making retail Accessible

Anthony, Greater Manchester SLC, said:

“My highlight would be the work with retailers to make shopping more enjoyable and accessible for blind and partially sighted customers, including our ‘Top Tips’ guide for retailers vision awareness sessions to staff.”

Retailer trying on simulation spectacles, stood with Sight Loss Council members at their stall.

Anthony, Greater Manchester SLC volunteer, talking to retailers during a ‘Talking Shop’ event

Download our Top Tips guide for retailers


Why don’t you join us? 

Our volunteers put together some short videos about why you should join us. This includes sharing that that they volunteer to: 

  • increase accessibility and make a difference 
  • give something back 
  • create positive change for others 
  • meet like-minded people 
  • build their confidence 
  • have a voice 
  • feel valued. 

They have also shared some messages for potential new members as part of our 2024 celebrations: 

Emma Blackmore, West of England SLC, said:  

Bristol SLC member, Emma Blackmore is smiling at the camera in a selfie. She is wearing glasses and has her white SLC hoodie on.“Volunteering for Sight Loss Councils has so many benefits. It helps to highlight issues that need to be changed in the local community and builds confidence in yourself and others. You can also make friends and collaborate to support the VI community.  

“Joining had a positive impact on my life. You learn skills, and you’re also helping make a better community for people with sight loss. It really is so rewarding.”  

Carolyn, Merseyside SLC, said:  

Headshot of Carolyn Conroy, Merseyside SLC member. Carolyn is looking to the side, smiling. She has long fair hair, and is wearing a dark top.“I volunteer to meet and get to know people with sight loss and to help boost my self-confidence.

“I make new friends and feel like I am making a positive change in our local area.

“Join us! We’re a friendly, supportive group. You’ll learn new skills, gain confidence, and develop friendships.” 

Gill , Greater Manchester SLC, said: 

Head shot of Gill Currie. she has jaw length, fair hair. She is smiling at the camera.“I volunteer because I want to be involved with projects that can make a difference for blind and partially sighted people. 

Being committed to giving your time and sharing knowledge can make you feel you are making a difference. Working within the team can be very satisfying, as can making new friends.” 

Anthony, Greater Manchester Sight Loss Council, said:  

Head and shoulders shot of Anthony Gough“I volunteer with Sight Loss Councils because I can use my lived experience to advocate and support the voices of other blind and partially sighted people.  

“Volunteering is a good way to be active in your community. Since joining Sight Loss Councils, I have met like-minded friends and allies. Our work has a real and genuine community feel because of our shared experience and understanding of one another.  

“You can learn a lot and develop transferable skills. I feel my time on the Sight Loss Council has made me a better listener and that I can communicate ideas much better.” 

 Join us

Sight Loss Councils are currently recruiting new blind or partially sighted members aged 19 and over to lead its work.

Whether you’re interested in public speaking or honing your social media skills, there’s something for everyone to get involved in.

Find out if we are recruiting in your area and complete our application form. 

 Learn more on how to join us

Stay in the know

Stay up to date with news from Sight Loss Councils and Thomas Pocklington Trust by signing up to their mailing list.

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Publication date: 31 May 2024

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