Experience has shown us that visually impaired young people are best supported by those who have personal experiences of living with a visual impairment. Which is why our pioneering peer mentoring scheme connects visually impaired young people with a more experienced visually impaired mentor.

Meet Mentor Saima

The mentoring project was born out of the need to create a positive and supportive space for visually impaired young people. Children with sensory impairments are amongst the most vulnerable in our society, social and academic exclusion is a serious issue for these children; blind and partially sighted children under 12 suffer from depression and around a quarter are unhappy with their lives because of their sight loss.

Image of the back of 5 LOOK mentors walking away from the camera in a field of grass, one of the mentors is wearing a blue LOOK hooded top

LOOK Mentor Saima is a longstanding member of our mentor team, dedicated to listening and coaching visually impaired young people through challenging situations. By sharing her own VI experience, she has helped countless mentees identify opportunities for a positive future.

How did you initially get involved with LOOK?

I initially became involved with LOOK UK just before starting my first year at university. I came across the LOOK team at Site Village and had a long chat with Charlotte (LOOK CEO). After this, I was invited to attend a training session at Hereford where I learnt about becoming a mentor, met a cohort of other mentors and learnt about Brightside.

Not long after, I was matched with a mentee and set up on the platform. I have learnt a lot throughout my mentoring journey and continue to do so.

What motivates you to continue working with LOOK?

What motivates me to continue mentoring young people is the fact that it gives me a chance to help young people overcome a range of issues. Unlike many organisations that are restricted to only supporting people in one area, the team of mentors is so diverse which brings a range of different experiences with it. Every mentee is hoping for something different from the project which makes conversations interesting as you never know what somebody will ask for support with.

Every mentee is hoping for something different from the project which makes conversations interesting as you never know what somebody will ask for support with.

What impact has the mentor project had on your life?

For me, the most rewarding aspect of the project is watching how my experiences can benefit other young people.

For my current mentee, I am supporting her to navigate the challenges of being in a secondary school amongst cited peers. I started supporting her before she entered secondary school and now we are two years in, I am helping her navigate the continuous challenges that she is currently up against.

What does the future look like for you and your mentees?

Looking to the future, I hope to help her grow in confidence so that she can advocate for herself and find a place among her peers.

It requires a special person to devote their time to others, to courageously share challenging experiences to help others, and to foster the self-esteem and self-belief of those they support. This is precisely what Saima consistently demonstrates throughout her time with the LOOK Mentoring project.

Saima, we are so incredibly grateful for the commitment and attention you have shown to your mentees, you always go the extra mile to support and motivate them. Your mentees are so lucky to have someone like you who truly cares.

LOOK’s tailored peer-mentoring service connects VI young people with a trained VI mentor to offer advice, support and guidance on subjects such as school, Further & Higher Education, careers, opportunities and independent living, based on the mentor’s own experiences.

It’s a hugely rewarding role that requires valuable skills that are transferable to other roles, both voluntary and in employment. Many of our mentors believe the skills that they have developed through mentoring benefit their CVs and job applications.

“The mentoring service is important because everyone needs somebody to guide them at one time or another. It feels great to be able to offer that to someone: I know there have been plenty of times in my life when I would have found it really helpful.” (Zahra, mentor)