Fife charity for blind warns of ‘devastating impact’ of lack of volunteers

A long established charity in Fife has warned of the "devastating impact” a shortage of volunteers is having on the help it can offer blind people.
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Seescape has issued an appeal for more people to step up and help tackle the isolation and loneliness associated with being blind or partially sighted.

The charity - the operating arm of Fife Society for the Blind - has served visually impaired people in the Kingdom for more than 150 years -is struggling to find enough volunteers to run the groups, support people who come along, and help with transport.

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Lesley Carcary, chief executive, said: “Loneliness, isolation and not being able to get out and about and enjoy things are the hardest things about sight loss. We are here to help people live their lives to the full, make friends and boost their confidence, but we rely on our volunteers to make that happen.

Volunteers are key to groups and events run by Seescape, including this  afternoon tea (Pic: Ian Sloan)Volunteers are key to groups and events run by Seescape, including this  afternoon tea (Pic: Ian Sloan)
Volunteers are key to groups and events run by Seescape, including this afternoon tea (Pic: Ian Sloan)

"A shortage of volunteers is having a devastating impact on people with sight loss.”

The charity, which supports more than 3500 people every year in Fife, runs weekly groups and activities for people with sight loss to get together, have fun and make new friends, but relies heavily on volunteers.Without that network, it means people who are blind or partially sighted - some of the most isolated in the community already – are unable to take part in activities and events that help them live their lives to the full.

Seescape is appealing for volunteers to help run its social group in Kirkcaldy, help with a new walking group in Dunfermline, and to act as befrienders to people who are lonely or isolated because of sight loss.

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Bob MacDonald, who is 94, comes to the Kirkcaldy social group every fortnight. He has macular degeneration and only has peripheral vision. While he has had to stop playing golf, Bob is determined to keep getting out and about and making the most of life.

Bob Macdonald (Pic: Ian Sloan)Bob Macdonald (Pic: Ian Sloan)
Bob Macdonald (Pic: Ian Sloan)

The social group host fortnightly meetings, outings, and activities, including quizzes, talks, museum visits, trips to Anstruther and Burntisland, as well as music and entertainment. Around 15 people come along to the activities – but the group has recently lost two volunteers, making it harder to put on events.

Bob, a former RAF man said “life would be poorer” without it.

He said: “I really enjoy it. I would miss it if it wasn’t there. It’s nice to be part of a group where we all have things in common. There are some excellent events and talks – the volunteers are remarkable and really helpful. I look forward to going – there is always something different.”

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Ian Sloan, 78, has volunteered at Seescape for two years, setting up and running the social group in Kirkcaldy.

He said: “Everyone is so happy and cheery when they come. It is great interaction and social mix for both volunteers and group members. It helps develop new friendships.”

Ian, whose career took in community education and being a councillor with Fife Council, added: “You can’t beat volunteering for getting new skills and experience, and having a job isn’t a barrier to volunteering. There are lots of roles you can do. I find it so rewarding. It is fulfilling and you feel appreciated. I have made new friends, met new people and kept my mind and body active.”

To find out more, please contact Seescape on (01592) 644 979.

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