See My Skills - J and Edward's stories
We want everyone, sighted and blind, to have the chance to enjoy the independence, purpose and meaning that employment can bring. As well as commissioning the See My Skills report, we have specifically funded a number of impactful projects which are addressing the barriers to employment.
Entering the world of work can be daunting for many young people, but when you have a visual impairment it can seem like an impossibility. Our partner the Royal Society for Blind Children (RSBC) aims to challenge that perception with its Equip and Empower Project. Over the last year RSBC has worked with 40 young vision impaired people aged 16-25 and offered one-to-one employment support to ensure they get the job of their dreams. Many of the participants enter the programme sceptical about the job they might attain, such as J, a 21 year old from South East London.
J dreamt of being a film maker but thought his visual impairment (nystagmus) meant that this could never be a reality. After working with an Employment Advisor his confidence grew and J realised that with some light touch support he could apply and interview for roles he aspired to. J’s advisor was also on hand to speak to new employers about any specialist support visually impaired employees may need. J recently entered full-time paid employment as a Videography Assistant within a niche travel agency, giving him control of his future again. J said: “I was a bit doubtful at first about how they’d feel with me being VI, but when they saw my showreel they were like yes! You’re in! It made a big difference having RSBC there to support and to have the difficult conversations with the company first. It’s brilliant!”
For many the road to employment starts with work experience and volunteering. Six months ago Edward started volunteering with the Conservation Volunteers’ Green Gym project in West London. Previously Edward found it difficult to access opportunities as many organisations had refused him due to his visual impairment, but he was determined to work outdoors. RSBC were able to work with Edward and the Conservation Volunteers group to risk assess his role and make necessary adaptations. Edward said: “It’s been a great way to meet new people and feel less isolated. I like it that it’s not the kind of thing people with VI are expected to do, so I feel like I’m changing people’s ideas a bit. It’s given me the confidence and skills to apply to Kew Gardens for a more in depth role. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever done.”