A PRESTWICK woman who has sight loss, has revealed volunteering changed her life, after she was affected 15 years ago.

Debra McKenzie, 63, began to lose her own sight 15 years ago due to the eye condition CMV retinitis, and during the lockdown, it deteriorated to the extent she now has none at all.

Now to mark Volunteers Week, which ran last week (June 1-7), Debra has spoken about what being a volunteer has meant for her and the people she helps, who, like her, have sight loss.

Debra said: “I’ve enjoyed volunteering and I take a lot out of it, but I hope I give a lot back, too. My volunteering roles with the national charity RNIB Scotland have been varied.

“During lockdown, I was a befriender to two or three people with sight loss. It helped because sometimes they were very isolated and all they needed was someone to phone them every week to make sure they were okay and reassure them.

“The thing I value most about volunteering is sometimes you’re the only person some people talk to or meet up with. Sometimes it becomes a sort of small family.

“Like the walking group, because they feel part of the community rather than being left out on the edge or stuck at home. It brings people together, and it can bring them out of their comfort zone a little bit, too”.

Debra added: “It’s wonderful to volunteer because everybody needs somebody, to do something new knowing there’s someone there next to you, encouraging you to empower yourself a little bit more. I think it’s very rewarding and fulfilling”.

In April, Debra and her guide dog Bruce, and friend Karen did the Glasgow Kilt-walk to raise funds for RNIB Scotland.