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“Getting in touch with Works for Me was the best decision ever”, said Molly. “They gave me the practical help that I needed – but more than this – gave me support when nobody else did.”
Molly was diagnosed with the degenerative eye condition, retinitis pigmentosa, in 2015 when she was just 25 years old. Originally from Wellington, New Zealand, Molly trained as a nursery teacher and graduated with a BE in early childhood education.
“When I lost my sight and gave up my job teaching. It was really hard to know what to do. Everyone kept telling me that blind and partially sighted people can do anything but I didn’t know what I could do.”
New to the sight loss community, Molly was looking to find things she could do when she saw on RNIB Connect’s Facebook group that Thomas Pocklington Trust, runs a Works for Me employment programme.
Works For Me is a free face-to-face service for blind and partially sighted people living in a London borough who are seeking paid employment, want to retain work through sight loss or are navigating a career change.
“Getting in touch with Works for Me was the best decision ever”
“I received one-to-one support from the Works for Me programme which helped me to work out where I wanted to go. This included identifying job websites, checking my applications and helping with my CV and cover letter.
“I hadn’t had a job interview in years – so the mock interview they ran for me was really helpful. In fact, when I went for the actual interview for my current job – many of the questions asked were the same.
“They gave me the practical help that I needed – but more than this – gave me support when nobody else did”.
Molly now works as an Eye Clinic Liaison Officer (ECLO) at a London Hospital. Working closely with medical and nursing staff in the eye clinic and the sensory team in social services, ECLOs provide those recently diagnosed with an eye condition with the practical and emotional support they need to understand their diagnosis, deal with their sight loss and maintain their independence.
She explained: “When people are diagnosed with sight loss we make sure they are not left to ‘get on with it’. We bridge the gap for people between clinics, counsellors and other support.
“My employer is massively supportive! I work with two other ECLOs in the hospital, both have lived experience of sight loss. We keep a tidy office so we can always find things and I bring my guide dog, Noah, with me every day”.
Now registered blind, Molly still has some partial sight and uses ZoomText on her computer which has a special large key yellow and black keyboard, a CCTV monitor and a smaller handheld CCTV. Also called Video Magnifiers, a CCTV combines a camera with a viewing screen for people with partial sight to be able to read text or perform close-up jobs. She commented: “This assistive tech makes a huge difference when I go out into clinics as I can still read notes when away from my desk”.
More information on magnifiers and assistive tech can be found on the Vital Tech website: www.vitaltech.org.uk
Molly added: “When I started losing my sight I don’t feel I received much support from my employer or Access to Work. I didn’t know my rights or what I was entitled to. I knew my job teaching young children would be impossible so I simply gave up this career.
“I would like to see more careers advice for people who lose their sight. I think this is a real gap for those that have had to give up their job and don’t know where to go from there.
“But Works for Me helped me to embark on another career that I love, helping other people who have just been diagnosed with sight loss to understand what support is available to them and what is possible”.