Dad and son lend a helping hand to local sensory charity
Published 23 November 2023
A father and son duo are giving back to the charity who supported their family with sight loss by volunteering as handymen.
John and Kyle Somerville enjoy spending time together and helping out at Forth Valley Sensory Centre (FVSC) in Falkirk by carrying out repairs. Kyle, 22, who is visually impaired, has been supported by the charity since he was a child, and the pair decided they wanted to give something back for the help they have received. As well as carrying out repairs and doing odd jobs around the centre, Kyle also helps at FVSC’s tech class, encouraging people with sensory loss to make the most of assistive technology and digital devices.
Kyle was born with no sight in his left eye and has Nystagmus – a condition that makes the eyeball flicker – in his right eye. The family started going to FVSC as a child, meeting other young people with sight loss and enjoying fun and adventures through their activities programme. Kyle even flew a plane at Dundee airport – a particularly proud moment for all the family.
Forth Valley Sensory Centre has supported people across central Scotland with sensory impairment and their families for over 15 years. It acts as a community hub, offering support, advice, practical help and social opportunities. FVSC’s overall objective is to help people who have a sensory impairment live as independently as possible.
John, who lives with Kyle in Stenhousemuir, said he and his son are “best friends” and enjoy being able to do something together to help the charity that means so much to them. The 52 year-old said:
“Kyle is partially sighted and has been using the sensory centre since he was a kid. We’ve had help from a few organisations such as RNIB and Guide Dogs, but the Sensory Centre has been very good for Kyle. It built up his confidence, allowed him to meet other partially sighted kids and realise that he was not alone. They have helped us to encourage him to try new things and understand that his sight doesn’t always mean he won’t be able to do stuff. They even had him flying a plane at Dundee Airport. I was sitting in the back of the plane and was very proud that he managed to fly the plane without any problems – and overjoyed that he landed it safely too. Around ten months ago I started volunteering with Kyle as a handyman and we have been quite busy repairing all sorts of things for the centre. It’s a great feeling that you have knowing you’ve made a difference. We both find the staff at the centre to be very welcoming and we like to think we are helping them to help the centre users get the best from the centre. We’re not just father and son – we are best friends – and it’s great to have something we can do together.”
Hannah Wilson, Volunteer Coordinator at FVSC
“We are hugely grateful to all our volunteers who go the extra mile to support our work. We rely on people giving up their time to help us deliver our life-changing services to people with sight and or/hearing loss in the Forth Valley and help tackle isolation and loneliness. There are lots of different ways to help us. Please get in touch if you would like to volunteer.”