A blind woman has thanked the generosity of strangers who crowdfunded a campaign which led to a job at her old college.
Meg Victor, who is 27 and lives in Sutton, worked for the ONS census team for five months, and then lost her job. She was out of work for a year before discovering the social enterprise Beam, which raises funds for people looking for work or a home and supplies a case worker.
Through a crowdfunder set up by Beam, Ms Victor eventually found a new role as a learning support assistant at an independent specialist college she attended from 2016 to 2019.
The college, which cannot be named for privacy reasons, has a large number of visually impaired students.
They haven't seen me, I haven't met them, and they were able to reach out and put their hands in their pockets to support me, which felt very embracing.
“That was my first time being crowdfunded. I never knew that people could be that generous, especially during Covid times,” Ms Victor told the PA news agency.
“I thought they would not be able to support me because of the cost-of-living crisis, but I was so touched that people still have that care for others, like myself.
“They haven’t seen me, I haven’t met them, and they were able to reach out and put their hands in their pockets to support me, which felt very embracing.”
£1,408 was raised in 11 days by over 50 members of the public. This paid for items including a laptop with speech software and a touch-typing course, which was central in her starting a new job.
Ms Victor found out about the job at her old college, which taught her Braille and which she refers to as her “second home,” through an online newsletter. Beam helped her with the application process.
The learning support assistant said she has previously had problems finding work due to the lack of measures for those with visual impairments.
Beam made the application smoother by using platforms such as WhatsApp where she could “easily just voice-note a question or request” to her caseworker.
Ms Victor has been in her new role for around two months. She has undergone training and had a “little taster” about working with the students.
“The people I currently work with are really grateful for me to be there because half of the staff there are sighted, but to have someone that is visually impaired registered blind within the organisation, I’m able to feed back to the students and the student can feel comfortable around me,” she said.
“I can really inspire the students, I can have one-to-one chats with them, boost their confidence.
“It’s a testimony for me to be there because the staff have moulded me and it’s lovely to be able to work there now as well.”
Seb Barker, co-founder of Beam, said: “Beam’s technology makes it easier for disadvantaged people to access personalised job support from the touch of a smartphone.
“We’re also bringing communities together online to help people like Meg achieve their goals, whether that’s donating towards a laptop or training course or sending a message of encouragement.”
More information about Miss Victor’s crowdfunder can be found here: https://beam.org/campaigns/meg-admin-assistant-training