Hayley Gleave, Recovery Co-ordinator

Blind Veterans UK was founded in 1915 by Sir Arthur Pearson to provide rehabilitation, training and lifelong support to those blinded in the First World War. Since then, over 15,000 ex-service men and women who have lost their sight have been helped by the charity.

My role as a volunteer involves offering social support for one of the veterans. I have been volunteering in Lancashire for almost two years as a home visitor volunteer. The veteran I support is 82 and registered blind. Pre-Covid, I would visit him on a fortnightly basis for a cup of tea or a chat. I would also help him around the house with different tasks that he struggled with and occasionally take him shopping. The pandemic has meant that I am no longer able to support him in the same capacity. I now speak with him on the phone weekly to alleviate further loneliness due to shielding, and I also do his shopping as he is unable to leave home. Throughout this pandemic, my support has been crucial for him and he often says how grateful he is for what I do for him. However, I also get a lot out of my volunteering. Helping someone who can’t do things for themselves, i.e. things that we take for granted each day, gives me a sense of gratitude and makes me feel good about doing a good deed for someone else – someone who served for our country and is now in need of our support and help.

I originally decided to volunteer to enhance my career opportunities. Since I have worked within the prison setting for the past 17 years, I wanted to get some experience of different services. I have always had a passion for supporting and helping people and after coming across this charity, the stories from members touched me, so I applied. I took part in a training and induction day at the Llandudno Centre, where I got to hear members speak about their lives after vision loss and the impact that the volunteers have on that journey.

Blind Veterans UK is always recruiting volunteers and I am happy to be contacted if anyone is interested and needs further information.

Blind Veterans Centre, Llandudno