Another of our head office volunteers is Peter Guy who has been with us for almost a year – supporting our IT team as a technical volunteer.
He joined us after retiring and moving to the area.
Peter knew he wanted to do something with his time and when he saw the role advertised, it resonated with him as something he would find interesting.
His role is mainly focused around the database which serves our Sonata internet radios.
Hundreds of people have these sets which give them access to thousands and thousands of radio stations from all around the world.
The content they can access is vast which means we need to keep on top of the database which holds all the information about the stations.
Peter is responsible for dealing with new content requests when users discover stations on our database they would like to have access to on their own individual radios.
He links these stations to their sets.
Another side to Peter’s role is tracking down and fixing URL links for the radio stations as these can often change and no longer work.
He also spends time helping out with other daily office tasks.
Peter explains: “On an internet radio station the frequency is [essentially] the URL which can change quite often.
“The reason most people listening to internet radio don’t experience problems is because they are listening through a database and someone is maintaining that database.
“It’s about keeping the radios going – that’s what it’s all about.”
Talking about volunteering, Peter says he enjoys it as it’s doing him good to keep busy and that everything he does for us makes a difference.
“I like it at BWBF – it’s a good atmosphere in the office,” he added.
He also said he would encourage anyone who is thinking about volunteering to give it a go – but to remember that it is a charity which is a place to give to.
We don’t just have radio distributor volunteers – we also have numerous people who give up their time to help us at our head office.
Anna has been volunteering for British Wireless for the Blind Fund for six years.
She helps us out as a database administrator – making sure our recipients’ and supporters’ details are all correct and up-to-date on our system.
Anna gives up her time to help at two other charities as well and says she loves the variety volunteering can bring.
“I worked for 20 years and was then made redundant,” she said.
“Volunteering helps to keep me busy and gets me out and about.
“It also keeps me up to speed with computer work, it’s the sort of thing I like doing, it’s nice having the variety of different people to see and sitting at home would be boring!
“I always had the ambition to work for a charity but it never happened so I’m doing it now by volunteering.”
Our head office volunteers are vital in helping us to keep things going behind the scenes.
Anna is generous enough to give us three days of her time a fortnight.
She has spina bifida and said that was a part of wanting to help out a charity which supports people with a disability.
“Anything to do with a disability from my point of view is worthwhile and I think anyone who is thinking about volunteering should go for it,” she added.
“Charities are always looking for volunteers to help in all sorts of areas and whether you have got a disability or not there is always space for people.
“I feel like I’m giving something back to society and to a cause which helps others.”
People have all sorts of different reasons for wanting to give their time to a charity, and the motivation for our longest serving volunteer to join us was very personal.
Colin Perrott has been volunteering at BWBF for more than 20 years – helping install audio equipment to hundreds of visually impaired people across Coventry.
The 83-year-old started as one of our radio distributors after he retired and has been doing it ever since.
The reason Colin decided to volunteer with us was because of his own experiences of sight problems.
When he was still working, he developed cataracts and said he rapidly began to lose his sight.
“It was very worrying. You keep thinking you are going blind, which in effect I was,” he said.
“They did operations to remove them and I was very lucky. My sight was OK.”
Colin, who was born in Coventry and has always lived there, felt so lucky that he thought he would give up his time to help others who hadn’t been so fortunate.
He says he thoroughly enjoys volunteering for BWBF and fits it in around his tap and modern dancing, dog walking twice a day and regular lunch and dinner outings with family.
“They fixed me up – I can drive and read newspapers and I felt I was lucky,” he said.
“I just felt that I could perhaps do something for people who had not been so lucky as myself.”
Over the 20 years, Colin says he has seen things change – mainly with the technology and the different sets which are on offer.
As well as going out to install radios for new recipients, Colin is on hand to provide technical support when people have problems – the most common of which is when they have lost their pre-sets.
Aside from the feeling of helping out, Colin says it’s also nice to meet lots of different people.
“I’ve met so many interesting people,” he added.
“I enjoy that I’ve helped somebody and perhaps made them feel not so isolated.
“I always stop and have a chat and keep in touch. Generally speaking they are absolutely thrilled to bits when they get their sets.”
Nick Prutton is one of our radio distributors, installing sets to blind and partially sighted people in Hertfordshire.
The 57-year-old has been volunteering with BWBF since 2013.
He was looking for something to do after moving back to the area from Devon and finding himself with time on his hands.
He came across the role on a volunteering website, applied for it and was visited by one of our Regional Development Managers who trained him up.
Although Nick didn’t personally know anybody who was visually impaired, he wanted to help a good cause and as he likes getting out and about and meeting people, felt it would suit him perfectly.
He says it varies how often he goes out to install a radio – it could be once a month or up to four times.
“I don’t really have a huge technical knowledge, but I know how to work a radio,” he says.
“They are quite self-explanatory.”
Nick says he enjoys the volunteering role as it can fit around everything else he’s doing and there’s no pressure to it, although he says he tries to get out to people as soon as he can after he’s been made aware they are waiting for a radio.
“People are always very pleased to see you and are really happy with their radios,” he said.
“They really rely on the sets from my experience – many of the people live alone.
“I couldn’t imagine being in all day every day so it’s nice to do a little something to help them.
“Sometimes if it’s been a couple of days they will say they’ve been waiting for it – the radios are their contact with the outside world.
“I love meeting people and it gets me out and about and also round to other places I might not otherwise go to as I cover the whole of Hertfordshire.”
Nick also says it’s a great volunteering role because you are directly dealing with the people which the charity benefits so you really feel like you are making a difference.
Rod Sparkes has been volunteering with BWBF for four years, helping us distribute our sets to blind and partially sighted people.
Rod first got involved with BWBF in January 2012 after an AGM of Devon in Sight the previous year and says it’s been awe-inspiring.
He recalls his initial training session where he and some fellow volunteers learned not only how to use the radios and any challenges they might encounter, but also hearing about the differing levels of vision people he would be meeting may have and how to respond to them.
Rod says he decided to join us as he was already a volunteer with Devon in Sight, meeting with visually impaired people in their own homes, and adding the radio installation to what he was doing seemed the right move.
“As somebody who values the range of programmes available on the radio I can appreciate the frustration that could be felt if one cannot easily find the programme they want,” he said.
“Every home visit is different – every client has a different story and delivering a radio is not just a case of drop off, set up and depart.
“To enable them to get the best from the chosen radio, it’s important to get to know something of the recipient.”
Rod says becoming a volunteer has meant he has been able to learn how different people cope with their visual impairments and his first visit was awe-inspiring.
He also says it is very rewarding when you are able to make a difference to a blind or partially sighted person.
He said: “A radio is capable of bringing not only a voice into the home, but the whole world.
“For somebody who has lost not only their sight but also possibly their independence and ability to travel, a radio can take you to the theatre, out into the countryside and around the world as well as bring the local community to your chair side table.
“Why would anyone not want to be part of enabling a person to engage with the community outside their own four walls?”
Four years ago Brian woke up with the sight in his right eye completely gone. Just blackness remained and he only has 20% vision in his left eye.
He said it was life-changing, especially as he used to run a small chauffeuring firm and hoped to go on driving clients until he was in his 80s.
At first he was reluctant to join social groups and he missed reading the 2,000 plus books he used to enjoy for relaxation.
Now he’s 74, Brian’s wife does all the driving but as she still works he has to do things in the home. He says his confidence has grown over time and he’s now a member of three different clubs.
Brian, from Llanelli, has a Concerto 2 set and says he uses it every day and loves listening to music and the local talking newspaper on CD.
“This is my first set from British Wireless – it’s just lovely,” he said.
“I’m very pleased with it. The yellow buttons are fantastic – you can see them against the black background.
“It’s a very good machine, with good sound quality.
“The other good thing about having my own radio is that nobody comes and changes the pre-sets.”