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Why I volunteer for LightAware – and you should too!

There are a lot of charities out there, and most of them focus on defined areas – a particular health condition, say, like autism or lupus, or an aspect of the natural world, like insects or trees.

In contrast, light gets everywhere! And at the same time, people don’t notice it. Or they notice it only when something impinges directly on their lives – when they’ve nearly crashed the car because they’re blinded by bright white LED headlights, or when newly-installed streetlights leave their night-time road striped with dangerous alterations of pitch darkness and narrow-beamed light.

But it all connects up. It’s all the result of modern lighting policy – or, to be more accurate, lack of policy.
Unfortunately the UK Government does not look at lighting in a joined-up way. It’s one of the worst examples of policy “silos” (and it’s not just me saying this – check out the House of Lords Science and
Technology Committee Report).

So, at the same time, the Government
– lets local councils install streetlights that BREAK guidelines designed to protect human health and the natural world;
– promotes LEDs as inherently environmentally friendly, while failing to notice that if the unit cost of lighting falls with no overall limits on light use, people will simply use more and more of it, negating energy savings and creating damaging light pollution; and
– bangs on about rising chronic illness and inactivity, while delaying measures which would keep people with light sensitivity conditions in work.

LightAware is the ONLY charity in the world that joins the dots to take a coherent overview of what’s going on with light. This means LightAware’s activities are unusually varied and interesting: we have to engage at so many different points and levels – from the planning system to the Equality Act.
At the same time, it means that LightAware’s team of volunteers is stretched trying to cover even a part of this. But that also means that volunteers can design their own role and pick their own area to focus on
– with a supportive team of colleagues to share ideas, frustrations and expertise.

And we don’t just wring our hands ineffectually from the sidelines. LightAware has a history of getting results, such as the exemption in the EU Eco-Design Regulations to give light-sensitive people continued access to non-LED bulbs (still awaiting final implementation in UK). It was recently lead author of the groundbreaking Vehicle Headlights Report alongside the RAC and the College of Optometrists.

Some of LightAware’s volunteers at the 2023 AGM

Our volunteer team includes people from very different backgrounds – engineering, academia, journalism, NHS, public sector – collaborating remotely from all over the UK. We’d love to welcome people with legal knowledge, or with backgrounds in marketing, lobbying or communications – or simply with enthusiasm!

Perhaps you are recently retired and looking for a new challenge, or starting your career and wanting to broaden your experience. With LightAware, you can do as much or as little as you want, focus on a one- off project, or do a regular slot every week, fortnight or month. We are a young charity, and we’re not set in our ways.

So, to answer my own question: LightAware is Varied, Unique, Effective, Flexible…and Friendly.
If volunteering with LightAware might be for you, do get in touch for a chat at

By Anna Lyndsey, the Girl in the Dark
Blogs are written by LightAware supporters in a personal capacity.

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