My name is Ryan Compton, I am the founder of Centre for Resolution and a volunteer for the Samaritans (since 2010). Aged six I was registered partially sighted with the diagnosis of Glaucoma. I then developed macular degeneration, cataracts and rod-cone dystrophy. I have had 60-70 operations. Aged 21 I was registered blind.
My school and college education has been frequently interrupted by the multiple surgeries I have had. I found surgery very deflating.
When I felt I was a step closer to having stability I would find another hurdle leading to me missing parts of my childhood and education. Teachers didn’t understand my impairment and believed it was only an excuse for my poor standard of schoolwork. In reality it was taking me longer to complete the work but I was also behind in academic ability. I left school with no qualifications. When I attended one of the specialist colleges they felt I needed to complete my A-levels rather than equip me with the skills to use assistive technology, access the web and emailing skills, which I have since found out would prove very valuable to me.
I have been in and out of college for nine years due to the 40 operations I’ve had during this time I managed to complete my A Levels.
I felt within the school system and the NHS there was no emotional support. I felt people weren’t aware of the emotional impact of having a vision impairment and dealing with the associated isolation. It has only been in recent times I’ve found out about the NHS support available (ECLO’s). Having a vision impairment hasn’t only impacted on my schooling but also on family, friendships, confidence and self-esteem.
In my teens I realised that no one else was going to support me so I would have to start speaking up for myself. Over the years one of my strengths has become communication.
I contacted my local social worker who assisted me with rehabilitation and information on equipment, which is available to make blind people more independent.
I also found that as a person who is registered blind it is difficult to access the channels that others can to seek employment. It has been empowering for me to not only find something I am good at but to be able to provide a service that adds value to other people’s lives.
It is still difficult to make organisations understand how to work with someone with a vision impairment. My belief is rather than complaining about the difficulties with organisations not being trained or equipped to deal with a person who has a vision impairment, to educate and enable them to do so.
People often say that I am positive and always have a smile. Negativity was a slope to disaster for me. I don’t work well surrounded by negativity and thrive off being around those who have a spring in their step. I was often the person my friends and family would come to for advice.
One of the reasons I’ve been able to create and maintain my business is due to Access to Work. Although the process is difficult and testing at times, it has been a service that has provided me with independence.
I have trained in mediation, mentoring and guidance, counselling skills, coaching, disability awareness and safeguarding.
Over the years I have developed the skills and empathy to help and support people. I decided to create an organisation to provide this support. Centre for Resolution provides mediators, mentors, coaches and advocates for anybody wanting support in their personal or work life.