So I have been looking back through the posts I have wrote and I saw in one that I mentioned I was setting up a support and social group for blind and visually impaired adults 25-45. Well I thought I would give you an update on this.
The group has been running since September. I had the first session at the manchester deaf centre. This was a great venue a large space and was free for the group. Unfortunately it was just a little to difficult for people to access. It was not central so therefore public transport was difficult to access and the building entrance for the centre was a little bit of a pain to find. So add in the difficulty of sight restrictions and it was near impossible to access alone especially if you haven’t been there before. So I decided to find a new venue. Somewhere more central and accessible.
The group now runs on the first Monday of the month, running 6pm till 8pm. The new venue is the Quakers Friends meeting house in central Manchester. The venue is behind central library near to the town hall. There are tram stops right outside the library and the central Piccadilly bus station is a 10 minute walk. Piccadilly train station can be accessed from the tram outside the library, therefore creating access from all areas. The room within the building that we use is on the ground floor close to the entrance making access simple and there are access ramps into the building. All in all it is a far better and more accessible venue and that is my main objective, is to make it as easy for people to access as possible. I want to be able to give the best opportunity for people to get support and connect with their peers. Hopefully making some new friends along the way.
I wanted to give a variety of support and to make it fun relaxed and inviting. Therefore, I have gone with a different theme for each month’s session. So far, we have had a body and mind wellbeing theme, a Christmas markets theme, a health and nutrition theme. We are looking at a legal and benefits advise session, a create a cake session, a dancing in the dark session and a tech support session going forward. On top of the different themes I want to be able to provide a social event or Trip twice a year completely subsidized, so there is no cost to group members. I have invited group members to give suggestions on what they would like to see going forward to create something that they want to come along to.
I also want to concentrate on creating awareness within the sighted community. I think that our group would be a great way of doing this. We can do this by having a session where each member brings along a sighted friend, colleague or family member. This way we share a little of our lives, experiences and help educate them on how we do our thing!! It may even be an idea to have an open drop in session where anyone can come along and we have a social gathering where information can be given out and questions can be asked. Would you come along?
We are still in the baby stages with the group and I have created a committee together with our sponsor and some group members and appointed a chair. I think it is so important to have a multi representation to help provide the best support possible.
We have volunteers but we always need more, so if you could spare 3 hours a month to help support, who knows you may make some amazing new friends and be surprised at how amazing people with sight loss are! If you would like to volunteer please email me on firstname.lastname@example.org
We are always looking for fund-raising ideas and new sponsors so again if you know of anyone or have any ideas, please email me for further details.
Throughout my life, I have always had a visual impairment of some degree and have had support from childhood up to late teens (not quite as much as there is now but I guess times change). Since approaching my 30s and now in my late 30’s and loosing my sight completely I have noticed there is not a lot of support out there for people of my age range. This is again getting better but it’s not good enough! That is why I wanted to start the support group so our age group 25-55 get a look in. There is a lot of support in charities and services for children and young adults and over 55 and this is such an amazing thing, I do not want to take away from this. I just think “what happens in that middle age range we don’t just fall into the Abyss and reappear later in life for support.”. We need it as much now, as in the other stages of life. Work parenting, socialising, exercise, and wellbeing. All of these things are important to use in this phase of life and we still need support. We don’t just become superheroes and have the ability to take on the world. Yes, we are strong, diverse and proactive but we do like most of the human race need support from our tribe.
So, I have talked your ears of a little now, LOL I will leave you with some information in case you want to find out more. We are on Facebook, @togetherVision or you can follow me on twitter @blind_but_sound where a regularly update about the group. You can also email me for further details or if you wish to work with me, helping create awareness of visual impairment in today’s world.
Take care for now