Robert was studying social work at university in Glasgow and looked into volunteering as he had some time and wanted to gain vital experience for a new career.

He says: “I came across Blind Veterans UK by reading some amazing stories on their website. I found them all really interesting and it made me want to say thanks for what veterans have done and give something back.”

Robert first started volunteering at one of our lunch clubs, set up to allow blind veterans from the same local area meet up regularly. He took on the role of a driver, picking up veterans from home to have lunch and then making sure they returned home safely. Our lunch clubs are so important for making sure that veterans get regular social contact and they wouldn’t be possible without the support of volunteers.

He says: “I was trained in how to support a blind veteran and give verbal descriptions as well as learning how to promote independence for them. It actually gave me a different outlook to realise nothing is impossible.”

Soon after Robert was able to start volunteering in a role that was even better suited to him. He says: “My passion is golf and there was a role available to be a spotter for one of the veterans who played golf before they lost their sight. This was absolutely perfect.

“I learned that nothing stops a blind veteran from doing anything even once they’ve lost their sight. It was amazing to see him hit the ball with such precision and he could even tell me the direction it was going just based on feel."

“My favourite time volunteering with the charity was definitely that first time I took Jim onto the golf course. Just seeing the smile on his face was amazing. He had spent two years looking for help golfing and needing a spotter."

“Jim loved it. He was back doing what he loved the most when he had sight and it was taken away from him when that sight was gone.

“We played once a fortnight until he sadly passed away. Although very sad it was an honour to play a small part in allowing him to continue with something he loved in his final years.

“I won’t forget the smile on his face. We sat and had a coffee after and as he was talking about it you could see the passion coming back. Its days like that you come home and just think about life, you thrive off it and it really makes you happy.”

Robert’s sporting talents have also come in useful as he has also volunteered to play indoor bowls with local blind veterans.

Because of the Coronavirus pandemic, Blind Veterans UK has adapted its service to support its 5,000 beneficiaries, 90% of whom are over 70 and being advised by the Government to self-isolate.

Having to self-isolate, blind veterans need our help right now with daily tasks, such as the shopping, and constant emotional support through this difficult time. Volunteers like Robert are playing an important role in this.

Robert is helping our blind veterans going through self-isolation

He is currently a telephone befriender to three veterans during the lockdown, checking in to make sure they are ok, if there’s anything they need as well as being a friendly voice on the phone to chat with.

On his two years volunteering with Blind Veterans UK, Robert says: “I would recommend it to anyone, you get such a sense of self satisfaction. The veterans are inspirational and the charity is just second to none.

“Sometimes the veterans just want someone to talk about their passions and to share their stories with. The veterans have so much to give back and it’s just nice to be able to give back too.”

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