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Volunteering was my path into employment: Masuma’s story
Meet Masuma Ali. She is a Sight Loss Council Engagement Manager for the East of England. She is convinced volunteering was the key to launching her career in community work.
Masuma has congenital Glaucoma and cataracts. She lost all her remaining vision after suffering a haemorrhage in her eye at the age of 19. She said: “I lost the ability to see colours. I could no longer pick out clothes from the wardrobe and know what colour they are – I miss that. I also had plans to go to university but didn’t feel I could do it.”
My avenue to finding work
Masuma sought to find work, but realised she had limited experience on her CV. She explained: “Most people at sixth form or university would have worked in supermarkets or clothes shops but my CV didn’t have any of that. I saw volunteering as my avenue to securing a job”
But finding volunteering work proved more difficult than she had imagined. She said:
“I applied for volunteering roles locally, but I struggled. I’d like to think times have changed, but organisations just weren’t set-up to take on someone who is visually impaired then.”
There were no support grants to fund the cost of assistive technology or travel to work for volunteering roles. She explained: “Once you’re working, you have Access to Work, (a government scheme that funds extra costs for equipment, support workers and travel costs) – but as a volunteer that’s not there for you.”
The power of volunteering
Despite these challenges, Masuma persevered, eventually finding a volunteering role for a sight loss charity. She was soon accepted onto a traineeship, where she learned to co-ordinate community events and lead social inclusion groups.
“I learned vital skills and got the experience I needed to launch my career. Volunteering was absolutely my path into employment.”
Go to our volunteering page for all volunteering opportunities.
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