How you can help . . .

If you can see to read this, you can help others who can’t!

As a registered charity our aim is to recruit, train and support volunteers who will visit blind and partially sighted people in their homes. Through this, as a team, we are able to enhance the quality of their lives and offer the much-appreciated support of someone who understands their sight loss.

The circumstance of each Client varies. Some may live alone, some with other family members or in sheltered accommodation. The majority of Homecall Clients are in the 85+ age bracket.

The amount and type of visual impairment varies from one Client to another. Some may need help with tasks made difficult by loss of central vision, such as reading and writing whilst others may have problems with loss of wider vision, such as getting out and about. Many find themselves isolated by their loss of sight and for them the priority may be companionship. The opportunities to help are many and varied; the Scheme Manager will discuss the needs of your Client with you and the ways in which you may be able to assist.

One of the Scheme Manager’s tasks is to match requests for help with those available to give it. Each Volunteer Visitor comes to us with different skills, interests and time available. It is her role to ensure you are well supported and that no one takes on more than they feel comfortable with. The most important quality required of a Volunteer Visitor is the willingness to help others whilst understanding their need to remain independent.

Each Volunteer Visitor is required to offer one hour a week visiting time. Once again, the Scheme Manager will discuss this with you, as the duration and frequency of visits may vary. The flexibility of home visiting makes it easy to fit in with other commitments.

You do not need previous experience of sight loss, home visiting or voluntary work. We provide training that covers visual impairment, confidentiality, sighted guiding techniques and the role of a visitor.

If you decide you would like to help . . .

Please contact the Scheme Manager whose details can be found on the Contacts page. You will be asked to complete an application form and either return it using the SAE provided or give it to the Scheme Manager as arranged. It asks questions designed to learn a little about you and your circumstances. We will ask for two references from people who can vouch for you, and take details in order to make a DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) check. This is standard procedure used to protect a potentially vulnerable client group.

You will meet the Scheme Manager who will talk over the scheme with you, explain any further points and decide with you how you can best be of help. You will then be asked to come to an informal training session that will also give you an opportunity to meet other local volunteers. As soon as the Scheme Manager has a Client for you to visit, she will arrange to introduce you both.

The work is rewarding and enjoyable for the Volunteer Visitor, and they often develop a close friendship with their Client. The chance to visit is open to everyone over 18 years of age, and everyone who has an hour to spare has something valuable to offer.

Once matched, you can of course contact the Scheme Manager for advice or help at any time and, similarly, they will contact you regularly to ensure all is going well. We also organise occasional meetings when visitors are able to meet one another informally and at which the Scheme Manager can provide support, information and advice.

You will be reimbursed for any out of pocket expenses incurred including 45p per mile for petrol used.

We hope these notes help you to understand the scheme. If you are sure you would like to help but are not sure how, please feel free to telephone the Scheme Manager for an informal chat or visit. We have endeavoured to keep the arrangements as simple as possible. At the same time, we need to ensure they are designed to enable an efficient and caring scheme providing the best possible service to people who are blind and partially sighted.

Homecall has an equal opportunities policy, public liability insurance cover up to the age of 75 and issues health and safety guidelines.

Volunteer Visitor awards

Volunteer Visitors who have completed five, ten, fifteen, twenty or twenty-five year's long service are recognised annually. A certificate and a badge, appropriate to the length of service, is presented to them following the Annual General Meeting. Longer service than this will be recognised in due course should a volunteer reach the thirty year milestone.

The training

It is important that our visitors are trained and we offer all new Volunteer Visitors a three-hour session at a local venue. We offer refresher training for all our Volunteer Visitors five yearly to ensure they are kept up to date with what is available for their client and advances in aids and technology for the blind and partially sighted.

In order to be of most help to your Client you need to be aware of how sight loss affects their ability to do certain things for themselves. You learn how you can help them to remain independent in their own homes, not always necessarily by doing things for them, but often by working out a way to help them to do it for themselves.

During the training session we show you some of the many visual aids that are available to help our Clients.

The training sessions are run by the Homecall Scheme Manager and a retired Rehabilitation Officer for the Visually Impaired.

The session is split into several short sections, covering the contents of our training manual, two short video excerpts showing how our service works, a talk by the Rehabilitation Officer on different types of blindness, a short session on sighted guiding and, over coffee and biscuits, a look at some of the blind aids. During the training session you will learn that we place a very high importance on both confidentiality and respecting the dignity of each client.

Training normally takes place at the local Fire Station in Beeching Road, Bexhill. Click here for map

You don't have to be an expert — Just be willing to help!