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Jobs from the Reach files - 27

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In this regular series Olive Braman tells how volunteers can use their skills and expertise through REACH, the charity that places professional and business people in part time voluntary jobs

You can find all the Jobs From the REACH Files articles from the Volunteering Index

Andrew`s blindness is no bar

When Andrew Saxby from Pinner lost his sight three years ago, he decided to close down his firm of chartered building surveyors and property managers. Blindness, he thought at the time, was too much of an obstacle to allow him to work. 

Now, looking back, he knows that is not true. “I thought then that I had no alternative,” he says. “Now, having completed the NVQ  Administration Level 3 at the Royal National College for the Blind, I believe that I could have continued to run my company.“

He has the evidence to prove it. Andrew took up voluntary work through REACH, the charity that places qualified people with voluntary organisations where their skills and experience are needed, and is currently advising on the refurbishment of the Richard Cusden Care Home in Wandsworth Common.

Most of the new skills that Andrew needed were acquired through the Royal National Institute for the Blind rehabilitation course. Andrew learned keyboard and computer skills and became completely self-sufficient.  “When I do survey work all I need is someone to describe what they are seeing. I ask them questions and get enough information to enable me to draft my report and make recommendations.”

Andrew now sits on the management committee of the Richard Cusden Homes, much to the delight and gratitude of vice-chairman Val Moeri. “We desperately needed someone with a professional background in surveying who could help us with our refurbishment plans. “Andrew’s expertise is a godsend. We get his advice on quotations and budgeting. And his knowledge of planning and building regulations is invaluable. He is advising us on the best ways to carry out the work with the minimum of disruption to our elderly residents.“

Andrew uses a computer with a synthetic voice system for his reports. He also works with Glasgow University to help develop a better system for using tables and travels extensively on public transport. His next aim is to have his own guide dog which will give him even greater independence.

“I am delighted that REACH found me this job,” he said. “I enjoy doing something which I believe to be of value in the community. Losing my sight was a terrible blow but I have learned to cope with it. I find great satisfaction in working and hope to take on much more. I believe in looking to the future as well as making the most of the opportunities that life offers.”

REACH has a disability outreach worker whose role is to encourage more people with disabilities to take up voluntary work as well as encouraging charities to look at their abilities and the expert help which they can offer.

For further information about REACH please telephone 020 7582 6543: website For information about the Richard Cusden Homes telephone  020 8870 9237        

Look out for future features from Olive Braman on Jobs From The REACH Files or view all the REACH Files Articles from our Volunteering Index 

laterlife interest

The above article is part of the features section of called laterlife interest. laterlife interest contains a variety of articles of interest for visitors to written by a number of experienced and new journalists.

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