Twenty two year old Charlotte from London joined RSBC in early 2016 having been diagnosed with Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy (LHON). She travelled to Strasbourg for 2018's European Youth Event to share her experiences.
Charlotte started her journey at Royal Society for Blind Children by attending Social & Peer and Health & Well-being groups before joining the RSBC Youth Forum, where she uses her experience of sight loss to support others going through the same thing.
The RSBC Youth Forum is a group of vision impaired young people committed to bringing about positive change for young people who are blind or partially sighted. They want to ensure that the voices of vision impaired young people are heard. They work to represent their views and opinions, highlight the issues that are important to them, influence those that can effect change and bring about improvements in services.
Charlotte is involved with all aspects of the Youth Forum and has worked on many campaigns with the RSBC. She’s committed to breaking down the barriers that blind and visually impaired young people face, and is particularly interested in promoting and securing accessible employment opportunities as well as raising awareness about what it’s really like to be blind or vision impaired.
“RSBC changed my life completely. Before joining I was a quiet, unemployed and under-confident girl who didn’t know what to do with her life or how to deal with sudden sight loss. For me, it was all about meeting other people at first. RSBC helped me meet young people that were going through the same thing as me, and could relate to my situation, and suddenly I didn’t feel so alone anymore.”
“Then it was about challenging myself to get out there and find a job. I knew I had to improve some of my skills before that would be able to happen. I had never travelled much independently but coming in for workshops and sessions now gave me a reason to, and seeing others doing it gave me the motivation to persevere until I succeeded.”
“My confidence almost instantly improved and once I did it a few times and met more and more people, I began to believe in myself.”
"I feel like RSBC – and especially the RSBC Youth Forum – has given me a voice and helped me with the things I wanted and needed help with. I don’t feel different anymore and can live my life to the fullest, which I didn’t think I would be able to do.”
Since joining RSBC’s Youth Forum, Charlotte has landed a full-time apprenticeship with the Home Office, run the London Marathon to raise funds for RSBC and travelled to Strasbourg to represent the RSBC Youth Forum at Eurodesk’s European Youth Event 2018. The event took place at the European parliament, where Charlotte was joined by 8000 other young people from Eurodesk partner organisations from all over Europe, members of the European parliament, and hundreds of youth organisations who all gathered together for two days of workshops and activities.
“I would not be where I am today without RSBC and the RSBC Youth Forum – in a full-time apprenticeship with the Home Office, more confident than ever, more friends and most of all, a voice for myself and other vision impaired people.”
To find out more about the work RSBC do with blind and partially sighted young people get in touch on +44203 198 0225 or email email@example.com.
Article submitted by the Royal Society for Blind Children, Eurodesk UK Partner.