Eighteen-year-old Ismail was diagnosed with Keratoconus. After struggling with his eyesight, Ismail decided to take a break from education, but wanted to improve his leadership skills and increase his chances of finding work in the future. He signed up for the See My Voice programme to further his knowledge and help others in similar situations.
Ismail has always had a passion for sports. He was a member of Newham & Essex Beagles Athletics Club. He is also a West Ham United fan, having previously worked as the club's Supporter Liaison Officer. Ismail enjoys Park Run and, despite finding it more difficult to run since losing his sight, runs 5k every Saturday morning.
Ismail chose to volunteer with Park Run as part of See My Voice. He took on a variety of roles including taking people's time, handing out awards and stewarding at events. Over the course of the programme, Ismail's confidence grew and he gained leadership experience by working with the general public and organising events. See My Voice also inspired Ismail to continue his running. He realised that by assisting others and speaking with Young Leaders who had gone through similar experiences, he would be able to continue his passion, even with the gradual loss of his sight.
Ismail said: "Everyone has their own kinks in their armour. We all have different setbacks and it's about adapting to those challenging hurdles by laying down alternatives and workarounds to overcome those barriers. The idea of volunteering, not just to lend a helping hand to other volunteers and organisers, but to make the experience a memorable one for participants. Having made their day by just being my friendly self and being as helpful and assistive as possible felt great."
Volunteering through See My Voice helped Ismail develop his leadership skills and gain the confidence he needed to apply and interview for jobs. Ismail has since been awarded an apprenticeship as an IT engineer.
Ismail said: "See My Voice empowers young people who lack the confidence to do certain things and makes them feel valued and capable. In the end, you just have to see their voice."
Since 2018, the programme has supported 194 disabled young people to contribute over 3110 hours (444 working days) of their time to help facilitate sports clubs, events, and organisations across the UK. This year, BBS has been collaborating with UK Deaf Sport and Sport Birmingham to empower more young people with other impairments and influence organisations that provide volunteer opportunities to adopt more inclusive practices, with the goal of making disability inclusion the norm in the sports sector and beyond.