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Photo of mel singing at SRSB

SRSB and the Mappin Street Centre have played a part in the life of Mel for as long as she can remember. Her earliest memories are of going to parties there with Tapton Mount school as a little girl. And one of her most recent is being invited to sing to entertain people at one of our Christmas parties.

Sadly the pandemic has meant that we have not be able to host any parties for the past year or more but Mel is one of the people who has made sure that no-one was left without help during the lockdowns by being a telephone befriender.

SRSB has done a lot for me, they have supported me through bad times and good and I have always wanted to give something back. The staff and the atmosphere are lovely. They always go out of their way to do nice things for people and the volunteers.

“I’ve also made lots of friends through it, it’s given me quite a lot of confidence and since Rotherham Sight & Sound opened I have also been involved in blind sports things.”

Mel has RP (Retinitis Pigmentosa), which was misdiagnosed at first. Now she says as she is “hitting 40” her sight is stable at the moment and she is able to get around with a white cane.

As well as childhood parties Mel also came to SRSB for braille lessons and it was when she finished college that she became involved in volunteering. In the past she has helped in the resource centre, worked on reception and been involved in the activities centre until her sight deteriorated too much to do that.

At difficult times in her life Mel has also turned to SRSB for help. And getting involved with activities and days out herself has lifted her spirits. “I love to sing and I am in a choir. Being invited to sing at Mappin Street at Christmas was really enjoyable and it took me away from my problems when I was struggling personally. It was a real opportunity and I got a bottle of wine as a gift.”

Mel also enjoys volunteering as a telephone befriender. It involves calling people once a week for a friendly chat. But it can be challenging too as recently people have been very sad about not being able to go out and do what they want to do. “It’s lovely. It’s easier to talk to some people than others and some are really frail. But when you can help people with their problems it’s really rewarding, people are very appreciative. One lady said she just would not have known what to do if I hadn’t been able to help her.”

Like many of our clients and volunteers, Mel is looking forward to getting back out with people once again.

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Sheffield Royal Society for the Blind links