Image of LOOK volunteer development coordinator Elin (aged approximately 13) and her brother and sister standing in a forest smiling at the camera.

Siblings by chance, friends by choice.

LOOK's Mentor Project Manager, Ruth reflects on life as part of a buzzing family unit, what she’s learnt from her siblings and what being a sibling means to her.

With National Siblings day just around the corner it’s got me thinking about siblings, our relationships with them, where we may get frustrated with them, our appreciation of them, and what we learn from them.

I’m not sure about you but there is no one in the world I can be as blunt with or as honest with than my siblings.

I have learnt a lot from my siblings, they influenced my tastes, my music choices, my clothing choices and even what I studied.

I don’t want them to know this sometimes, but I am hugely grateful for the influence and direction they have given me. I have also never felt as annoyed with anyone else as I have with my siblings. I have let them know this, very loudly.

Having written the above I realise how much of my interaction and communication with my siblings I take for granted.

So, let’s hit pause and look at sibling relationships here at LOOK. We need to take time to say thank you or I love you to our siblings.

My sister would probably run a mile if I tried to hug her and tell her I love her. She is not OK with physical affection. Yet if I buy her mini eggs and tell her she is ace she knows exactly what I mean.

Sibling Support

I can’t write about this topic without thinking about the amazing sibling support our staff team has.

When it came to putting on our first ever accessible Family Festival – LOOKFest, we needed Sighted Volunteers to help enable access at the festival. Along came a merry band including many siblings of LOOK staff to step in and help us.

We literally wouldn’t have been able to have pull it off without them. Our siblings are LOOK.

I have heard Mentors here at LOOK reflect on some the frustrations their sighted Siblings have felt over the years regarding household tasks. For example:

“Why doesn’t she have to load the dishwasher? I do! She gets away with it because she is blind.”

I know a lot of mentors and mentees here at LOOK will have felt these gripes and had to navigate such squabbles and discrepancies.

There are also plenty of positives. Siblings have often been the people our community has lent on both emotionally and for sighted support.

Image of 3 sets of legs, one a girl wearing a stripy dress holding hands with a boy in jeans and a dark t-shirt who is holding hands with a woman wearing blue jeans. The background is grass with the sun behind them

Thank you!

Thank you to all the brothers and sisters out there who have helped their VI siblings read their post, navigate tech, find the right train, help advocate with your sibling and delivered a lot of love.

Thank you to the siblings who have helped with wardrobe choices, style, make up tips , nit combing after an outbreak at school, and assistance with life admin. You rock!

Thank you also to the sibling partnerships here at LOOK where you have shared experiences of Visual Impairment with one another.

We have brothers and sisters and twins involved in the LOOK Family of mentoring, volunteering and our community. Hearing how you have shared your experiences with your siblings, supporting one another as sight has changed and been a companion along the way is emotive.

Thank you for reaching out and sharing your combined knowledge and support with the wider LOOK Family it is massively appreciated.

We also need to give a shout to all the people who do not have a sibling. I know some of the LOOK Family who are ‘only’ children have spoken of their wish to have had a sibling, maybe feeling a bit jealous of those who do. Yet also feeling a keen sense of appreciation for the attention and devotion they received within their family unit.

There are sibling partnerships some have found with cousins, and with great friends. Thank you to all the people who have stepped into this role and been a source of strength and love for people who haven’t got a biological sibling. There is certainly more than one way to be a family and you all demonstrate that.

So, as we celebrate National Siblings Day pause to reach out to your brothers and sisters.

My siblings make me belly laugh, they wind me up and they also never judge me. Thankyou!

To find out more about LOOK’s peer Mentoring programme

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