Sapna always knew that she wanted to get involved in volunteering.
"I’ve been quite privileged - my father has been successful and along the way he has always taught me the importance of giving back. I don’t think it matters which country you are in - there are always people in need. I wanted to continue with sports so I worked with a charity called StreetChance coaching cricket for about a year and a half. I went on to volunteer with RNIB."
“Most of my experience has been working with young people and I wanted to do something with older people. I have an eye condition which prompted me to work with people who are partially-sighted or have sight-loss. I saw a volunteer had won a Student Impact award for her volunteer work with RNIB - at which point I’d already made my application to volunteer with them. I wanted to understand disability from a different perspective.
The Attendance Allowance form is a 40 page long PDF - if you have any form of sight-loss it’s incredibly difficult to fill in. So my job was to take long phone calls with people to find out all the information and fill in the form on their behalf. You have to ask all sorts of personal questions. I hear a lot about how their lives are, and sometimes it is hard to hear. The amount I’ve learned after these past 2 years is quite impressive. The very first call I made was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do - I was being listened to by one of the RNIB staff - and hearing a lot of upsetting things. Over time I’ve learned how to manage my emotions and use that to get the best out of the call to help the people who needed it."
That sounds challenging - do you find the work rewarding?
"I can see how people benefit through what I do - and that certainly helps. I remember a really difficult call with someone whose husband had just passed away and she didn’t want to speak to me at all. When she eventually received the benefit through, she called me to apologise - she explained that she was feeling very angry at the time and she had taken it out on me. It was kind of her to explain.”
Sapna’s Volunteer Co-ordinator nominated her for the Student Impact Award for Leadership in Volunteering and said this in her nomination.
“Sapna has a professional approach to her volunteer role. She is trustworthy, committed and reliable. During her time with us she has helped RNIB customers to successfully claim £21,535.80 in Attendance Allowance annually.
“I often speak to the customers after they have been awarded the benefit. The money they now receive is making a big difference to them all. Many chose to spend it on practical help in the home or to pay for taxis to take them shopping, meeting up with friends and to get out and about. A husband told me that for the first time in 20 years he would be able to take his wife on a seaside break. What is common for all the successful applicants are their gratitude and appreciation for what Sapna has done for them.”
Kalle Hogh, Volunteer Co-ordinator - RNIB
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