For Volunteers’ Week, we are telling the stories of our wonderful volunteers, and how they are making a real difference to the lives of blind children, young people, and their families.
Meet Shamim Merchant, who volunteers with our Family Engagement Worker, Michelle, at the Royal London Hospital. Shamim and Michelle work closely with families of blind children diagnosed with a vision impairment. Shamim blogs about her role as RSBC’s first Hospital Family Befriender, and what she’s learned since she started in January this year.
Helping blind children and their families
“I usually volunteer at the Royal London Hospital Eye clinic every week on a Monday, assisting Michelle in my capacity as a volunteer for RSBC. I like the routine but also enjoy the fact that some days I don’t always know how the day is going to plan out.
I assist with admin including filling out patients’ details, helping to fill out forms, filing patients notes, making phone calls to confirm appointments or enquiring about patients. Michelle will discuss various referrals and how they are progressing. Occasionally there are meetings with parents of patients and I also attend psycho/social meetings with Michelle where patients progress is being discussed. From time to time I will chat to patients’ families in the waiting area to introduce them to RSBC activities and how the organisation can be of help.
I have a good working relationship with Michelle and assisting or informing people even in a small capacity makes me feel positive. Also, I like being in a medical environment & in the general “buzz” of the hospital!
Doing this role has been a learning curve in a very positive way. My assumptions of vision impairment have really been revised and I’ve learnt (and am still learning) about the myriad of eye diseases and conditions which exist. Dealing with children and young adults with degrees of sight loss and how they manage has provided me with valuable insight. How the parents cope with the challenges facing their children can be inspiring.
For anyone looking to volunteer I’d say give it a try! It’s really raised my awareness.”
Do you want to learn about vision impairment by volunteering at RSBC?
Follow in Shamim’s footsteps and you can help ensure that no child in the UK grows up to be poor and lonely just because they are blind. Check out our range of volunteering opportunities to get involved.