19 year-old Robert is an aspiring writer, actor and singer. After losing his sight suddenly whilst taking his GCSE’s three years ago, he felt lost and thought he would never be able to pursue his talents again.
Three years later Robert is about to start college. He started attending RSBC services earlier this year and has been working with his RSBC employability mentor who has helped open up a world of opportunities for him.
“I didn’t know what to do.”
Robert was living in Borneo with his family when he suddenly lost his sight due to a tumour. After he recovered Robert had a tough time trying to adjust to his vision impairment.
“The academic side was very difficult” Robert says. “I didn’t know what to do, or how to access my course, and nor did any of the staff.”
A couple of years later, Robert and his family moved to the UK. Robert started learning the basics of braille and was given mobility training by his local council.
“It felt like I’d been put in a little box.”
“It felt like the last three years I’d been put in a little box, and I had to be led around that little box. With mobility training this all changed. Just being able to go down to the local shop or walking to a local square was just amazing. I’d think, I got here on my own, it’s brilliant!”
Robert was referred to RSBC to build on the progress he’d made. He started attending RSBC’s Music Group, as well as joining other young blind people on one of the RSBC Social and Peer groups, and pursuing activities like skiing through the RSBC Health and Well-being clubs.
Energised by his achievements, Robert spoke to Mark Wright, RSBC’s Employment Support Adviser on the RSBC’s Employability Programme about pursuing his love of acting and singing. The programme works with blind young people age 18-25.
It wasn’t long before Mark introduced Robert to vision impaired actor/director Thibaud Leclus, who is a mentor on the Employability Programme. They got to work and devised a series of open space drama workshops, which they are running for blind young people and their families for the rest of 2017.
Thibaud’s mentoring didn’t stop there. He has helped Robert record an audition tape for The Voice UK, as well as submit his own play that charts his experience of sight loss, into a writing competition organised by Extant, Britain’s leading professional performing arts company of vision impaired people.
“Thibaud hasn’t let his vision impairment thwart his career ambitions”
“I’m incredibly honoured that RSBC and Thibaud have spent so much time helping me. Seeing that Thibaud hasn’t let his own vision impairment thwart his career ambitions has really motivated me.” Robert says.
Mentoring in RSBC’s Employability Programme has also struck a chord with Thibaud. He says “I have learned so much working with Robert. Robert is a very good example that you can achieve anything if you keep on standing up after falling. It really motivates me seeing his potential and how he handles it.”
Robert is now looking forward to starting college where he’ll be doing A-levels in Performing Arts, English Literature and Maths.
“Suddenly it’s like someone’s turned the light on and you’re in this massive room that’s got lots of opportunities.”
Looking back he says the last three years have been tough, but receiving the support from RSBC and Thibaud has enabled him to do things he thought were not possible.
“When you lose your sight, from my own experience, it’s as if someone’s chucked you down a dark hole.” Robert explains. “You’re in this little hole looking around and all you can see is dark. You don’t know where to go or what to do, and then when you get the help, suddenly it’s like someone’s turned the light on and you see you’re not in this little hole, you’re in this massive room that’s got lots of opportunities.”
Learn more about the RSBC Employability programme
RSBC can help vision impaired 18 – 25 year olds get the skills they need to kick start their career, whether that’s in the dramatic arts or otherwise!
As part of the Employability programme, will work with young people one on one to identify their needs, and find a suitable work placement for them and their ambitions.
The team will liaise with employers to ensure candidates’ access requirements are met, which can make the process far less stressful, and will help everyone involved make the most of the placement.
To find out more about how the Employability programme, fill in your details below and we’ll be in touch.