We’re celebrating Volunteers Week (1-7 June 2023) and our wonderful volunteers who do so much to make a difference to the lives of visually impaired people in our county. And, it’s a great opportunity to tell even more people about volunteering, and what a positive impact it has.
What is Volunteers Week?
Volunteers Week is an annual celebration of all the fantastic ways that volunteers contribute to society. It’s an opportunity to say thank you for everything they do.
Choose your time
Are you interested in knowing more? Any time you can give is valuable to us. Whether it’s an hour every now and then, a few hours a week or helping us on an outing for a day; you control the time you can spare.
Making a difference
There are many ways you can make a difference to NAB, however you choose to volunteer:
- Become a befriender: visit a visually impaired person in their own home or by chatting to them on the phone, and offer them the valuable benefit of your time and company
- Help at one of our Social Eyes activities: come and join in the fun and support visually impaired people to increase their confidence at an event in your area of the county
- Read for the weekly Talking News: help visually impaired people access information in their local area by becoming a reader for the talking newspaper and enrich someone’s life
- Social club assistance for our get together groups across the county
- Fundraising – help our fantastic Fundraising Officer by raising funds at one of our events or by taking part in one of our sponsored challenges, such as our annual Tunnel Trek
The benefits of volunteering
Volunteering can offer so many benefits, including:
- Making a difference to someone
- Making new friends and meeting new people with similar interests
- Learning new skills
- Giving back to the charity
Please note: some roles will require a DBS check. NAB will cover all costs and complete this for you.
Have you heard of our Ball by Ball service? For the last fifteen years, our fantastic volunteers have been providing live commentary at Northamptonshire County Cricket Club’s first team home games for visually impaired spectators and we’re currently looking for more volunteers.
One of its kind
Our wonderful Ball by Ball service is thought to be the only one of its kind to have run for so long – other than the service at Lord’s, where it was introduced in 2007. We’re extremely proud of the value Ball by Ball provides to visually impaired cricket enthusiasts, and the volunteers who have helped us run this service for so long.
How it works
Our volunteer led commentary team are cricket enthusiasts themselves, which means they know what they’re talking about when it comes to cricket! Providing detailed descriptions of what is happening during play means our visually impaired spectators get a real sense of what the crowd is reacting to!
The live commentary is heard via headsets, which are free to hire, subject to a £5 refundable deposit.
Volunteers who know their cricket
If you’re a cricket enthusiast who could help provide commentary, we’d love to hear from you! As a volunteer, you’ll also get to watch the match you attend on a volunteer basis free of charge. We are currently organising volunteers for cricket matches all the way up until the end of this year’s cricket season which ends in September.
Gratitude and thanks
Our Ball by Ball 15th anniversary also provides us with the perfect opportunity to show our appreciation and thanks to both past and present volunteers who have devoted hours of match play providing comprehensive, inclusive commentating for the enjoyment of spectators.
We would also like to extend special gratitude to John Wood, former General Secretary of NAB and long standing supporter of our charity and this initiative.
It’s Mental Health Week (15th-21st May) and this year’s theme is anxiety. Raising awareness on such conditions is so important, and as a charity, we are dedicated to providing advice, support and resources to help visually impaired people live their lives and retain a sense of wellbeing when it comes to their mental health.
Vision loss and mental health
Vision loss and vision impairments can have a huge impact on mental health. Effects can include depression, low mood and anxiety, which means it is important that people diagnosed with eye disease and disorders have access to the right support and resources available to them. In terms of anxiety, it is always a good idea to recognise you’re feeling this way and get help before it gets even worse.
Symptoms of anxiety and low mood
Common symptoms of anxiety include:
- Feeling unable to control worrying thoughts
- Having trouble focusing
- Feeling restless or on edge
- Feelings of irritability
- Such feelings can also make you feel sad, helpless, lonely, fatigued or lacking in motivation.
Simple tips for keeping your eyes, and mind, healthy!
There are many ways you can help alleviate feelings of anxiety or low mood such as:
Move more, daily!
Physical activity is good for us, both mentally and physically, helping to lower the risk of health problems that can affect vision, as well as boosting our mood. The activities you choose don’t have to be strenuous, they can simply be going for a self-paced stroll, gentle stretches or a swim at your own pace.
Use your breath in times of stress
When we’re anxious, our breath can become laboured, which can create even more anxiety. If this happens, focus on your breathing with a calming practice such as the 4-7-8 Breath Technique:
- Find a quiet place and sit or lie down.
- Exhale, so that your mouth makes a ‘whooshing’ sound.
- Close your mouth and inhale through your nose to a mental count of four.
- Hold your breath to the count of seven.
- Exhale through your mouth again, making another whoosh sound to a count of eight – all in one breath.
- Finally, inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.
Connect with others
Spending time with people in a supportive environment can make a huge difference to how you feel. Especially as feeling low or anxious can make you feel very isolated. Make sure you reach out to friends and family… and, don’t forget we’re on hand here at NAB with information of various social groups, events, coffee mornings and pub get-togethers across the county.
In times of stress, it’s easy to reach for the biscuits and junk food, but these types of food, along with stimulants such as caffeine, aren’t great choices for mood balance. A healthy diet with fruits, vegetables, proteins, plenty of water and healthy fats such as nuts and seeds, can really help regulate our blood sugar levels and even help us sleep better.
Money worry support
Money worries can cause anxiety, especially with the cost of living pressures so do seek out the support and guidance on offer from places such as Citizens Advice, StepChange and the National Debtline. The Government also has a lot of guidance on different entitlements and benefits. Please visit Gov.uk for more information.