The work of Manx Blind Welfare Society is so wide-ranging, there are many ways to get involved if you are keen to volunteer. We have opportunities which can suit all kinds of schedules, abilities and interests; here are just a few examples of how you can help us.
It is important to say that anyone volunteering to help will be given adequate training to enable them to perform the chosen function and for them to get the most out of it. This would include how to guide a visually impaired person because, with the exception of the Manx Recorded News Service, all areas of the Society’s work include guiding. It is a relatively simple task but volunteers do have to be mobile enough to guide and undergo the training.
The Society provides ongoing support and training for volunteers, and we also have an annual get together to thank everyone who gives up their time to assist blind and visually impaired people in the Isle of Man. It is a relaxed, friendly evening that gives you the opportunity to meet other volunteers and for the Society to show how much we appreciate the time you give; without our volunteers we could not possibly provide all the support and services that help to make life easier for the Island’s visually impaired people.
As we work with vulnerable people, the Society has a responsibility to undertake police vetting checks on all staff and volunteers.
As a ‘Buddy’ you will help visually impaired people on an occasional basis with a task they are having difficulty doing alone. These tasks could range from assisting with correspondence or choosing talking books to helping with personal shopping or accompanying them to an appointment or outing. We all go through difficult times in our lives and, as a Buddy, you can be there to listen and chat with a visually impaired person when they need someone’s support.
There is always a great need for minibus drivers, as providing transport is vital to many of the services Manx Blind Welfare Society delivers. Depending on your availability you could help on a weekly basis, bringing visually impaired people to our regular Luncheon Clubs for example, or on an occasional basis helping us to organise outings for Society members. Whatever time you can spare would be greatly appreciated, and we provide full training for our minibus drivers.
If you don’t fancy driving but would like to help, we need to have an escort on board every minibus to assist members. This role would be most suitable for a relatively mobile person.
If you have your own car and would like to volunteer, the Society would always welcome offers of transport for members to and from Corrin Court and various outings.
Our Luncheon Club is a wonderful opportunity for members, volunteers and staff to socialise. Held three times a week, on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at Corrin Court, members enjoy a three-course, freshly prepared meal, as well as a range of entertainment.
If you can spare the time, the Society would appreciate assistance in serving the lunches and providing company to members during the meals.
If you have a particular skill or talent you might be able to share with our members, perhaps in arts or crafts, or enjoy compiling quizzes, we’d love to hear from you.
Society members always enjoy musical entertainment and hearing about people’s travels, adventures, hobbies or tales from the past; if you could provide occasional or even one-off entertainment or talks it would be greatly welcomed by MBWS.
One of the Society’s most popular activities is short mat bowling, which takes place every Wednesday afternoon at the NSC in Douglas. You could help us by volunteering to be an assistant during this outing, which is so greatly enjoyed by our members. Don’t worry – you don’t have to be a bowler to help, although you might fancy having a go!
It’s a simple pleasure most of us enjoy, but taking a walk can present challenges for some blind and visually impaired people. The Society tries to ensure, especially in the summer months, that members have the opportunity to take a short walk, or perhaps a longer stroll. If you could volunteer to accompany us on our walks, it would help make sure they can go ahead, as well as ensuring you get some fresh air and exercise. You could also volunteer to accompany Society members at Walk & Talk, a special event held on the outdoor track at the National Sports Centre in Douglas for people from all walks of life to come together to exercise at their own pace, in a safe environment, and socialise with others.
The grounds around Corrin Court in Onchan are a wonderful resource for our members, but they do need maintaining. If you could spare a little time once a month, or once a fortnight, over the summer to do some light gardening and clearing work it would be very useful. If enough people volunteer to help, we’d organise a rota which could mean each volunteer is needed less than once a month.
Manx Blind Welfare Society has an extensive library which lends audio books to members so they can enjoy the latest best-sellers and classic novels at home. It is a popular service, but relies entirely on volunteer librarians to help members, sign audio books in and out, keep the shelves in order and so on. We’re fortunate that the library duties are presently covered by our regular volunteers, but the Society is keen to hear from anyone who would like to help, especially to ensure the library is kept open during periods when volunteers are unavailable due to holidays or illness.
It is vital that our headquarters, Corrin Court in Onchan, is open when members need our support and services. This is only possible thanks to the support of volunteers who commit just half a day each week to look after our reception. The main tasks are meeting and greeting visitors and answering the telephone, which is a simple phone system, not a complicated switchboard.
At present we have sufficient volunteers to keep the reception open throughout the week, but if you think you could help, especially to cover periods of holiday or illness, please do get in touch.
You could be needed just once or twice a month, or sometimes just once every two or three months. Occasionally, you may be asked to help provide cover at short notice, but the Society obviously understands if you are unavailable.
Manx Recorded News Service
A key service offered by Manx Blind Welfare Society is the weekly preparation and distribution of recorded Manx news and current affairs. We have a studio at our Corrin Court centre where the recording is made each week, and we need volunteers to read a selection of local news stories and articles, copy the recordings and dispatch them to members.
The recordings need to be ready by midday each Friday, and this can be done at the centre’s studio, which is open from 9am to 5pm each weekday. If that doesn’t suit your schedule, we have portable recording equipment which could make it possible to record the news at home.
The copiers then prepare 100 copies of the recording, which is carried out on our simple-to-use copying machines, and dispatchers send the recordings out to members and mark off a register to ensure everyone has been remembered. You do not need special technical knowledge to be a dispatcher or copier.
The Society operates a rota basis and currently volunteers only come in once every few weeks to support this vital service.
The VIP Store
Manx Blind Welfare Society now has its very own shop in the heart of Douglas, selling a wide range of good quality pre-owned clothes, books, ornaments, furniture and other items. It provides important income for the society, as well as helping to raise awareness of MBWS among the public.
There are lots of ways you could get involved in helping at The VIP Store; you could serve customers at the Strand Street shop, or you could help collect, transport or sort stock, for example. Training, where necessary, is given.
Isle of Man Fund for the Blind
Manx Blind Welfare Society can only continue to deliver services to the visually impaired of the Isle of Man thanks to the generosity of those who donate funds to our work. The Isle of Man Fund for the Blind is a vital group of people which organises a rich variety of fundraising events to bring in the money without which, quite simply, the Society could not function. If you have ideas and energy and would like to get involved, please consider joining the Isle of Man Fund for the Blind.