Saying thanks to the volunteers from Kingston Association for the Blind

For this Volunteers Week, we heard from volunteers from Kingston Association for the Blind (KAB), who spoke about their experiences for Volunteers’ Week.

Alex P is a Volunteer Eye Buddy for Kingston Association for the Blind (KAB) and they go out for exercise with a visually impaired man every week. During lockdown “unfortunately our usual routine has been temporarily suspended, although we still stay in touch. I’ve joked with my buddy that I need to find someone else to take me on my weekly walk and he’s always in good spirits – luckily he has family who can help him to remain safe and stocked up with food.”

Some of the members of KAB are self-isolating entirely to protect themselves or on the shielded list. Alex P has been dropping off phone cards from the post office from one member, so she can continue to stay in contact with her sister abroad. Alex P says “It’s a pretty simple task but it can make a big difference to someone, who’s no doubt finding this period a lot more difficult than me. And personally, it feels satisfying to know that I’m helping out – because even the small things will add up.”

Another Alex and KAB volunteer was due to help at their first Ten Pin Bowling Group for Kingston Association for the Blind (KAB) when the COVID 19 lockdown kicked in. He says “Naturally, it was frustrating to be locked away from everyone but it quickly dawned on me that I was in a very privileged position. I’m young, relatively safe and have lots of free time to help those in need, who really cannot leave their homes.”

“Then KAB got in contact with me to see if I could help a visually impaired elderly lady near me, doing a food shop and prescription pick-up. Again, I was nervous – will I buy the right thing? What if they haven’t got what she wants? What if I’m not being hygienic enough? These worries went quickly as I got into a routine, ringing up weekly to catch up. I learnt a bit more about Maureen and we get on very well – we’ve found out a lot about each other. One day, we wish to sit down and share a cup of tea and a biscuit, but for now, we’ll just have to keep going how we are – and that’s okay.”

Maureen says “what a lovely young man Alex is and how lucky his parents are to have him!”

James N has been volunteering for KAB for three years taking members out on a tandem bike, providing exercise and freedom. As this has been on pause during this period he has been relaxing in his hammock, enjoying the quiet roads and keeping fit on his bike for when he can return to volunteer.

Sally H has been a Volunteer Eye Buddy with a lady called Catherine for sixteen months. She says “we have grown very fond of each and have a good rapport.” During the Lockdown, while she couldn’t meet with Catherine they have kept in regular contact. “Although her family have bought her ‘Alexa’ and she now has talking books and enjoyed Pride and Prejudice, she says it’s no substitute for me and she still wants me back!! Phew!” Sally has also bought and delivered get well gifts for two friends of Catherine who have been unwell.

With the easing of some restrictions, Catherine and Sally have discussed meeting in Catherine’s garden (while obviously obeying social distancing rules and taking care of hygiene). Sally says “It will be lovely to see her again”.

We think it’s #TimeToSayThanks to these wonderful volunteers, who have volunteered all year round, and made such a difference.

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