Calum Shows the Way at Sight Cymru

The tutor and students sit round a table listening in to the conference call

It’s always good to hear how our former students are getting along, so we were delighted when Calum Briars got in touch to ask if he could share his post RNC experiences with current Business Studies students.

To give students a glimpse into his working life, Claire Lewin, Head of Business, set up a conference call between Calum and students Abdul, Abi, Brandon, Jordan, Landre and Ryan.

Calum left RNC three years ago after studying Personal Training and Business Studies. He had a few jobs including a fundraiser for a company in Cardiff but then found himself out of work for a year, which he admitted was an extremely difficult time.

At that point Calum was put in touch with Sight Cymru in Pontypool, a not for profit organisation that supported people with sight loss to live independently in their own homes. It turned out they had a job available and Calum took up the post of an Eye Clinic Liaison Officer (ECLO).

ECLOs assist people to understand their diagnosis and help link to the right services and navigate the complexity of possible treatments and services.

Whilst in this role, an IT post became available within the organisation and Calum now provides help and support to people who are new to accessible technology. He thoroughly enjoys the job and gets to meet lots of nice people and is able to make a massive difference to their lives by teaching them how to use assistive technology in their own homes.

The job means quite a bit of travelling for Calum so he is lucky enough to have a driver who takes him and his guide dog out to client homes.

To inform their course work, students asked lots of probing questions which Calum happily answered.

In response to a question about the business set up of Sight Cymru. Calum said:

‘Sight Cymru is a not for profit organisation and is the only independent sight loss charity that strives to promote the welfare of people with sight loss across South Wales. It has a team of 16 employees and is funded through donations, contracts, trusts and foundations.’

Student, Ryan, wanted to know if Sight Cymru worked with other organisations. Calum said:

‘We work with many other sight loss organisations, for example, The RNIB. It’s always good to meet and share new ideas and good practice.’

Brandon asked if Sight Cymru had corporate standards for written communications, such as rules for writing key messages or the use of a particular font type or style?

In Calum’s role, he usually uses verbal communication, starting off with an informal phone call in order to book in a client for a home visit. However, Sight Cymru do have a corporate style and email signatures follow a set standard and it has to be displayed in Welsh and English.

Generally, Calum’s job doesn’t involve much written communication. For him, it’s more about building a rapport with the client over the phone and face-to-face. He said it was incredibly important to listen and every client was different and he needed to adapt what he was doing or saying depending on the situation.

Brandon taking notes during the conference

Landre asked if Calum used any other tools to communicate? Calum said in his work it was all about the conversations. He talks people through how to use social media, set alarms for medication, how to online shop and many other online services. 

Abdul wanted to know how Calum kept up-to-date with information on sight conditions and technology?

Calum said:

‘It’s all down to making connections with the right people and organisations, having weekly office days to update records and through research.’

Sessions like these provide an excellent opportunity for students to ask guest speakers questions which informs their understanding of different business scenarios and Claire and her class, thanked Calum for a very helpful and hugely informative session.


One response to “Calum Shows the Way at Sight Cymru”

  1. steven ramsdale says:

    As a former teacher of Calum, I am very pleased and proud he has found employment. He has a lot to offer people and as a student he had a strong inner determination to make a difference. He also successfully organised and managed an enjoyable evening entertainment event which I still remember. It was considerate of him to help current RNC students.

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