Margaret from South Wales has volunteered for Deafblind UK for the past 10 years. She has since developed Macular Degeneration herself and so has more empathy than ever for the people she helps.
She said: “I used to bring a friend of mine to the Deafblind UK social groups because she didn’t have transport. I would drop her off and go back home only to go and collect her later on. I thought ‘why do I bother going home?’ So I started staying and listened to what was going on and became interested. I later developed Macular Degeneration myself and had to stop driving but I still help out at the group.
“Working with Deafblind UK has opened my eyes as to how many people have deafblindness – but I never thought it would affect me.”
“If I hadn’t been involved with the group then I would have been terrified about being diagnosed with Macular Degeneration. But, having worked with people who have the condition and having seen how they managed, it gave me hope. I thought that if they can cope then I can cope as well.
“There are so many people who are locked in a silent world and unable to see, so the Deafblind UK social groups are very relevant. In this day and age people are more and more isolated.
“After 10 years of volunteering and developing Macular Degeneration myself, I realized that I was turning the TV up louder. Andrew from Deafblind UK persuaded me to become a member.
“I have learned a lot at the group that I am applying to my own life. It has helped me a great deal to cope with my disability. I really have a heart for people who have lost their sight.
“Groups like ours demonstrate how much is out there to help us but we don’t know about it unless we hear about it from speakers who come and talk to us. Being a volunteer meant that I was in on the ground floor when I was diagnosed with Macular Degeneration. I have learned to appreciate kindness, and the importance of being kind to myself.
“The most surprising thing is how resilient people are and that has been an inspiration to me. How people do cope with their afflictions, there are so many isolated people out there with deafblindness and you don’t see them. It’s groups like ours that enable them to get out.”