Volunteering leads to holiday in Barcelona
Atiqa Ilyas, aged 25 lost her sight 11 years ago due to complications following an accident. She first met her My Guide volunteer, 25-year old Carri in September 2014. The two have been meeting up every week since and get on like a house on fire, developing a firm friendship and even going on holiday together!
“I’m quite a confident and outgoing person who wants to enjoy life like most other young people my age.
“Losing my sight so young was devastating, but as I began to adjust I found the limitations sight loss imposed on my quality of life hugely frustrating. Like most young women, I want to be independent from my parents and to go out and do my own thing, but because I couldn’t see I struggled to be as independent as I’d like.
“I began to attend activities at My Sight Notts and it was suggested I might benefit from a My Guide volunteer, so I thought why not, what do I have to lose?”
“I was quite keen to meet a volunteer who was a similar age and had similar interests to myself and so I was delighted when they suggested Carri, who was a similar age to me.
“We got on well from the beginning, Carri comes once or twice a week to read my mail and guide me to my local park so I could get out of the house for a bit. This quickly developed into going swimming and to the gym together and we soon discovered we got on fantastically!
“Carri makes me laugh a lot, we love to tease each other and have a giggle. She lifts my spirits and makes me smile!
Travelling abroad without support would be unthinkable
“I would probably say that I’m the more confident of the two, I’ve taught Carri Origami and I was the one who suggested we go on holiday together, but it was important to me that we chose the destination together and we both agreed that we wanted to go to Barcelona.
“Going swimming and travelling aboard without the support of my family would have been unthinkable before I met Carri. She’s enabled me to broaden my horizons, be more independent from my family and enjoy things other young people simply take for granted.”
“I saw the My Guide volunteer role on a local charity website and thought it looked both interesting and worthwhile. It was flexible and I knew I could fit it in around my new work contract so I decided to contact My Sight Notts to find out more.
“The training was informative and practical, which really appealed to me. It was well thought out and made good use of volunteers’ time.
“My grandmother’s late husband had a visual impairment but it wasn’t why I chose the role, although the prospect of sighted guiding didn’t scare me. I signed up because I could fit it around my commitments and it seemed like a worthwhile thing to do.
“I was quite nervous when I first met Atiqa, because I really wanted to make it work, plus I knew Atiqa needed to put a lot of trust in me as her sighted guide, but I needn’t have worried, it was clear fairly early on we were going to get on well.
People think the volunteer does all the giving but that simply isn’t true!
“People often think that the volunteer does all the giving in partnerships like ours, but that is simply not true! Atiqa is very self-confident and eager to try new things, whereas I’m quite a cautious person. She’s encouraged me to try all sorts of things, like Origami, flying abroad and even learning some Urdu! We’re well matched, thanks to the clever Volunteer Coordinator at My Sight Notts; we complement each other well and have lots and lots of fun together.
“Becoming a My Guide volunteer means I’ve made a new friend, laughed until my sides ached and got me out of the house trying new things – who doesn’t want that?”
Could you be a guiding star?
Could you spare just an hour or so each week to become a guiding star like Carri and help a visually impaired person like Atiqa get more out of life? We currently have a number of people on our waiting list, expecially in the Mansfield and Bingham areas, waiting for a My Guide volunteer. If you’d like more information on this volunteering opportunity with us, please contact Martha or Nic on 0115 9706 806 or email firstname.lastname@example.org