A CHARITY that supports blind people has put out an urgent appeal for people to volunteer as drivers.
Open Sight is a charity that helps blind and partially-sighted people by offering them support and social opportunities.
The Fareham branch of Open Sight has more than 400 members, many of whom attend social events to meet others who share the same experiences.
And the charity is now in desperate need of people to become drivers to transport its members to and from these social events, which provide a lifeline for many by preventing loneliness and isolation.
Jenny Robinson, chairwoman of Open Sight’s Fareham branch, said: ‘Without drivers our members can’t get to the social clubs and that means a lot of them are very isolated in their own homes.
‘They don’t find it easy to get out of the house because they can’t see where they’re going, they have no means of getting out because they can’t drive so it’s so important that they have the opportunity to get out and meet with people.’
Yvonne Everett, 65, from Gosport has used Open Sight since she became blind more than seven years ago.
She said: ‘Without the volunteer drivers I wouldn’t be able to get to my clubs, which I think is very helpful and I am very gracious for the volunteer drivers to give their time up.
‘I’m very grateful to them. I know we are getting short of them but if anyone would like to help we would be very gracious for their time.’
Terry Smith, Open Sight’s community development and support manager, explained that being a volunteer driver involves picking up blind and partially-sighted people from their homes across Fareham, taking them to one of the Open Sight social clubs and transporting them back home.
Training is provided and milage expenses are covered by the charity.
Mr Smith, 50, said: ‘Without transportation to these social activities lots of people become very lonely and very isolated. They become very easily depressed and it has a knock on effect on friends and family and of course the local support services including GPs and the NHS.
‘We can’t put a price tag on what the drivers do because it is a priceless service.’
To become a volunteer driver contact Open Sight on 02380 641244 or Terry Smith on 02380 646377 or visit the website opensight.org.uk.