Stuart Ball – Sight Life Cymru #VolunteersWeek

My name is Stuart Ball and I am totally and utterly blind due to having Cancer in my eyes as a child. I am currently volunteering for Sight Life, an amazing charity for blind and partially sighted people, which supports over 3,000 people with sight loss across Cardiff, RCT and Swansea, Neath, Port Talbot. This unique charity is making it possible for me to make a difference to the lives of fellow blind and partially sighted individuals throughout RCT. We are working together to ensure that people with sight loss feel valued and reassure them that they are not forgotten by society. 

Sight Life is a highly motivated, caring and grass roots charity that empowers people with sight loss to take their lives back. This is achieved with bespoke support and guidance for their members by premium quality staff who go the extra mile to ensure that the job gets done. Sight Life facilitates social activities/groups, provides information on independent living skills and proactively contacts people with sight loss to ensure that they are not isolated and falling through the cracks in society. 

Due to my unwavering belief and commitment to this wonderful charity, I have decided to go the extra mile myself and take on the hardest marathon of my life. I will be participating in the Snowdonia marathon in October this year. I decided I needed a crazy challenge as part of my mid-life crisis and this extremely tough marathon is definitely it! The Snowdonia marathon was established in 1982, is extremely hilly and undulates its way around the Snowdonia mountain in North Wales. It is important to note at this point that I will only be able to tackle this madness due to my amazing Guide Runners from Les Croupiers Running Club in Cardiff. 

I can honestly say that I have not looked back since I began volunteering for Sight Life in March 2023. I am regularly getting in touch with isolated individuals who have recently lost their sight or are in the process of losing their sight completely. I thoroughly enjoy being able to support them at this tremendously difficult time in their life. I am able to add value to this process because I have already lost my sight and can assure them that life goes on and anything is possible! 

Carys Groves, Volunteering for Sight Life in RCT: 

Stuart was referred to me via the RCT sensory team in January 2023 as a new member and potential volunteer. Stuart was very enthusiastic and had an excellent knowledge base to draw upon. He was a Disability assessor for Cardiff Met for 13 years and volunteered with the old Cardiff Institute for the blind with colleagues who still work for Sight Life, many years ago. 

He made it clear to me that he was keen to address the 2 issues he believes people with sight loss have which are social mobility and communication. 

Stuart met the team, and we discussed all the volunteering opportunities from Contact & Advice line to technical support to the training of guide runners. He took part in the volunteer induction training day and started on our Contact line, calling all RCT members from March. These conversations with members are invaluable and many have described feeling so much more positive and empowered after chatting with Stuart. 

Whilst volunteering with us we can draw on Stuart’s vast experience with accessible technology and his live life experience as a person with no sight at all. 

He has since been involved in projects with USW Treforest, Sight Life’s financial and wellbeing roadshows and fundraisers, networking events across RCT and Cardiff, an accessible technology whizz, and a popular and valued member of our Young at Heart social group in RCT. 

Stuart is an outstanding and inspirational volunteer who has forged strong relationships with staff, fellow volunteers and our members. 

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