16th October 2023
We caught up with Bruce, our Peer Support Worker, who’s been part of SAMH’s Moray service for two years. He shares what life is like at SAMH, and how he overcomes the challenges due to being non-sighted.
Could you tell us a little about your role, Bruce?
“I’m a Peer Support Worker at SAMH’s Moray service. We provide a 12-week support service for people experiencing mental health problems, and we take referrals from GPs, social workers, and other community organisations.
“We act on the goals of people we support, be it returning to sport or playing a musical instrument. Taking someone from breaking point to achieving their goals, returning to what they do best, is incredibly rewarding. We’ve even reconnected people back to their faith, and the church sisters have come into the office to help. Every day is different here, and that’s what I like about it.”
What’s your experience been as one of SAMH’s first blind colleagues?
“I’m visually impaired with a total loss of vision. This means joining SAMH was a bit daunting, and I’m happy that Tracy (our Service Manager) gave me the opportunity to do this role. In fact, I haven’t come across another person at SAMH who isn’t exceptionally supportive of others around them. I think we’ve all got important skills, but it’s about being given the opportunity to show them off.
“A new work environment does mean a new layout to learn. Thankfully, my guide dog Obie serves as my eyes. Obie memorises the routes that I walk, and helps direct me around obstacles. Obie has a working collar and a play collar. With his work collar, he’s a model professional who avoids people and remains focused on the job at hand. With the play collar, he has a mischievous side and likes to stealthily steal crumbs from the floor. He’s also incredibly popular with the people we support!”
How has your role been made more accessible?
“Because I’m so independent, people sometimes forget I’m visually impaired. The computer’s screen reader helps read out emails, no matter how long or short, while both Apple and Android phones now have built-in accessibility features as standard. I remember before when you had to buy special software!
“Some people might tend to overthink things because I’m blind. But the technology is coming along all the time, and I can always ask someone for help. I’m an independent person, and it’s about making sure I can do things safely. We all find ways to simplify life, but for me, I might simplify it twice so it’s a little easier.”
How do you like to spend your free time?
“I’ve been learning to play bagpipes, and most importantly, I love anything with an engine – especially if it involves getting my hands dirty. My circle of friends mostly work in agriculture and so they’re always giving me the scoop on new hardware coming out. The technology in particular is nearly driving itself these days, thanks to GPS!
“I also volunteer for the Guide Dogs. Besides that, I love working in the garden and going out to eat with my friends.”
Do you have a top piece of life or work advice you’d like to share?
“You only get one chance at life, and you never know what’s around the corner. Live life to the fullest. And remember, there isn’t any failure in life if you’ve learned something from it.”
Thanks Bruce! Tracy Grant is Service Manager at SAMH’s Moray service. Tracy, what would you like to tell us about Bruce?
“When I interviewed Bruce I was immediately struck by his warmth, honesty and sense of humour. Bruce brings a skill set and experience that are unique to our team, such as how to deal with loss and change. He has a gentle, understanding approach with the people we support and I’ve learned so much from him over the past 2 years.
“Obie is also a very special dog with a cheeky streak as he runs around our office with charm and ease! We’ve all learned from Bruce that life is for living. No matter what obstacles you meet, there is always a way around them.”
Do you share a similar Bruce’s enthusiasm for mental health? Check out our vacancies here. We have a variety of roles to suit you, located across Scotland.