Visibility operates an "Out & About" service across Nithsdale, Annandale and Eskdale, helping people with a visual or hearing impairment to get back out in their communities thanks to funding from Dumfries & Galloway Council. The project welcomes it's 40th volunteer at a celebration event in Dumfries earlier this year.
Dumfries-based Arlene Croall, Chair of Visibility, said: "I remember Treena becoming one of our first volunteers for the Out & About service, so to see so many faces here today - from long-standing volunteers with decades of experience to those who have just completed their induction training - is fantastic. Reaching 40 volunteers is a real milestone and we're so grateful to everyone involved for giving up their time. Last year, our volunteers committed more than 1,800 hours of their time to this project and the work they deliver in their communities is the heart of our organisation."
Despite volunteering for more than 22 years, Visibility's first Out & About volunteer Treena Wylie still gets so much from the role. "I've learned a lot from each person I've been paired with," explained Trina. "You realise each person is unique and has an amazing story to tell. I feel very well supported by the staff at Visibility. They feel like part of my family after such a long time."
Arlene explained how the service has grown in recent years, adding: "We have a small team of four staff covering the entire region and in addition to the 40 volunteers helping us deliver the Out & About service, we are fortunate to have 20 people who themselves have sight or hearing loss contribute so much of their time in helping us delivering training or providing one-to-one support across Dumfries & Galloway.
Adam Armstrong, a volunteer who has severe hearing loss himself, said of his involvement with the project: "I love what I do!"
Avril Dunlop, who has been helping staff from the project deliver training to professionals across the region in addition to shadowing home visits to provide one-to-one support, added: "It's nice to give something back and I really enjoy delivering talks and sharing my own experiences to try and get new volunteers on board. Visibility has helped me overcome some of the challenges related to my own sight loss, and I find it very rewarding to help others get to the same place. I try to help people get to a positive place, not to dwell on what they can't do but what they can do, just in a different way.”
Visibility Chair Arlene continued: "Volunteers help Visibility to reduce the isolation often experienced by people living with sensory impairment by supporting them to get out and about locally. People tell us that volunteers help to build their confidence and makes them feel less lonely. Small amounts of your time can make a huge difference in someone's life. And helping someone to take the smallest of steps can bring the biggest smiles.
"It would be amazing if the next time our volunteers meet we were celebrating having 50 local people working with us. If anyone reading this has some time to spare, even as little as an hour a month can make a huge difference to someone's life and overcoming their impairment. You can get in touch with us on 01387 267 131 or email email@example.com"
Volunteer Valerie Bolton, from Lockerbie, said: "When you finish up a visit you feel you've made such a difference - even if it's only been an hour out of my day. I'm retired and it makes me feel like there's a lot of life ahead for me as quite often I'm supporting people who are 20 years older than myself. I first heard of Visibility by reading an article in the local paper, so it would be lovely to come full circle and meet some people who want to get involved as a new volunteer after reading about my experiences."