Working for People with Sight Loss

NCBI Connection Network and its impact on volunteers and service users

With the help of volunteers right across Ireland, NCBI (National Council for the Blind of Ireland) is committed to reaching and changing the lives of people who are blind or vision impaired.

Over the course of the Covid19 pandemic, many NCBI service users reported they experienced feelings of isolation and loneliness borne out of the need for people to stay apart as well as not being able to abide by social distancing due to being unable to gauge 2m distances.

That’s where the Connection Network comes in! As part of International Volunteer Day, on 5th December, NCBI is seeking more volunteers for the vital service which connects service users with volunteers for regular phone conversations in a bid to build friendships in difficult times.

The experience can be extremely enriching for both volunteers and the NCBI service users they help, as Connection Network volunteer, Kay, can testify.

A key volunteer for Connection Network said: ‘Volunteering in the Connection Network service has given me a sense of fulfilment and friendship. I enjoy my weekly chats with service users and feel I am part of providing a great service to vulnerable people especially during this pandemic when people are very lonely due to Covid19.’

Another person who volunteered for the service added: ‘I befriended a service user over the course of a year and although I am no longer in a position to continue with my role, I would like to continue to connect with him. I developed a good friendship with him since we connected through the service.’

Those who used the confidential Connection Network programme also really benefited from it.

Feedback from service users included comments, such as: ‘Knowing that I had someone on the other end of the phone who wanted to chat has gotten me through the second lockdown’

Another service user said: ‘The Connection Network has been my lifeline over the past couple of months, having a cup of tea and a chat brightens my day.’

Those who wish to volunteer for the Connection Network will be provided with training and support from the NCBI Services Team.

If you wish to enquire about volunteering for this important service, please contact Paul Derrig on paul.derrig@ncbi.ie.