In The Eyes Of: Volunteering at The IBSA World Games 2023 with Production Manager Annabel


In The Eyes Of: Volunteering at the IBSA World Games
Written by Annabel Lawton-Smith


The New Scheme

This year PinPoint introduced a new scheme for staff, an option of 2 additional days off work for the purpose of volunteering. The initial idea came from our wellbeing committee where we discovered a bunch of research to suggest that giving back to others is actually good for your health. I can’t pretend to know the science behind it (a quick Google can do that job) but it was clear that giving back can give a great sense of purpose and reduce stress and so, although those 2 days won’t be spent sitting by a pool drinking a cocktail, it will be doing something else hopefully stress-relieving.  

On top of this, PinPoint as a company enjoy giving back (we are in the midst of raising £10,000 for Alzheimer’s UK), and so ultimately this is a win-win. The company gets to give back by offering staff time, and also staff get to enjoy a new and endorphin-filled challenge.


The IBSA World Games

Given I haven’t done much volunteering before, I did struggle to know where to start in finding an opportunity. Google came to my rescue once more and I found a local volunteering message board where people would post about volunteering opportunities. After a while of deliberating which Disney princess I could dress up as (with a charity called Make a Smile), I discovered a post requesting volunteers for the IBSA World Games being hosted in Birmingham. The games are the largest high-level international event for athletes with visual impairment, with more than 1250 competitors from 70 nations.

Volunteering at The IBSA World Games

A little background about me – my family is sporty. I’ve come from a long line of athletes and my father ensured I took up the hereditary interest in sport from a young age. So, although volunteering is not something I have much experience in, doing so at a sporting event didn’t seem too far out of my comfort zone.

The first task was attending training sessions around visual impairments and guide dogs, which only piqued my excitement at the thought of seeing some cute dogs during my shifts.


The Volunteer Days 

I started off being assigned to Judo, and was told I would be operating one of the cameras to film the competitions – perfect! I do work in a content agency after all. Sadly, after I was ready to show off my filming skills, the plans changed and I was reassigned to Archery. Perhaps this was a small blessing in disguise, as after watching some of the competitions I realised that I have zero understanding of the rules of Judo. 

Volunteering at The IBSA Games

Archery was an impressive spectacle to watch, imagine firing an arrow towards a target that you cannot see and hitting the bullseye; that takes some serious skill. If you’re wondering how this is even possible, they would have a spotter and a tactile sight to help them out. My role here mostly involved making sure there were no distractions for the athletes and ushering people throughout the day with their kit.


Volunteering at The IBSA World Games

The following two days I was assigned to Tennis, and boy did I get a workout. After turning up thinking I might be ushering spectators or checking passes again, it transpired that I was actually there to act as a ball kid. So, off I went to spend a 12-hour shift running after a tennis ball, however, any moment where I wasn’t running I managed to watch the talented athletes up close in action.

The tennis balls contained a small rattle, so that the athletes could hear where the ball was on the court which showed the importance, even more so than Wimbledon, of the spectators being extremely quiet. It did require a regular bit of shushing of the Australian fans!


The Takeaways 

After a long sleep, I was able to reflect on my volunteering experience. Of course, I’ve learnt a lot about visual impairments and how to support people who are blind or partially sighted. But mostly, I’ve been inspired by the athletes who not only are incredibly impressive at their respective sports but also bring a huge amount of fun, joy and sportsmanship. Although it was a competition, it never truly felt like one.

The majority of my fellow volunteers were retired – of course – who else would have a handful of free days in the middle of the week? I was grateful that I was able to take part and PinPoint was able to survive without me for an extra couple of days.

I’ll certainly be encouraging my colleagues to get involved and to use their volunteering days as well and since the IBSA World Games only runs every 4 years, next year I’ll have to think of a new volunteering challenge to try my hand at.

Volunteering at the IBSA World Games

Written by Annabel Lawton-Smith


If you’re interested in reading more of the In The Eyes Of series, click here: or if you’re interested in learning more about The IBSA World Games, click here:  Alternatively, if you would like to see some of the action visit The IBSA’s World Games’s YouTube channel: