Friday, 1 December 2017

Talking bathroom scales - Graham

The equipment centre at Mappin Street is brilliant as there is a wide selection of products to examine and often test to see if a product is going to help with your specific needs.

I have recently been told by my doctor to 'lose weight', something my wife has been telling me for a while but the problem is motivation and it is also a faff to ask someone to look at the bathroom scale for you every time you get weighed.

Last month I decided to buy one of the 'talking bathroom scales' available from SRSB. Priced at just under £30 it isn't as cheap as a non-talking equivalent, but it tells you your weight a few seconds after standing on it. There's no switching it on or anything, just stand on it and it says "hello". I say "hello" back, not wanting to be impolite, and then it gives me my weight in either stones and pounds or kilograms.

My wife was a bit sceptical about whether I would use it, but in fact, both her and me now get weighed every morning before breakfast and have been drawn into a slimming competition. This is all in good spirit and a bit tongue in cheek but as a result we are both losing weight. I have already lost at least a quater of a stone and my blood pressure has reduced.

Needless to say, I highly recommend the talking bathroom scales so I thought I would share this with you.

Graham with the talking bathroom scales

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Charles Bonnet Syndrome - Amy

I myself do not have Charles Bonnet Syndrome (CBS), but it is a condition that I find very interesting.

CBS can happen as a result of sight loss. This happens because your brain can't make clear images from your eyes, so it replaces them with visions that aren't really there. These visions vary from person to person. Some have visions of people in historic clothing, things moving around in front of them, patterns, wallpaper that they know is wrong.

CBS is not widely known about. It can often lead to worry and panic in the person and their loved ones. People suffering with this condition are often too worried to tell others about their visions, as it makes them question their mental health. To the people with CBS the visions are very real. To be told it isn't real or that they are just seeing things can be very frustrating.

The visions of CBS just come and go as they please, no rhyme or reason, and no two people have the same.

Mood and stress can make these visions more frequent, and more cluttered. They don't always see just one thing at one time. There are often two or three things at the same time. This is something they learn to live with, this is the world they live in.

The visions seem as real as anything a fully sighted person would see. It may be strange, but it's there. It doesn't matter whether others can see it or not, because they can and it's a part of their life. Even many doctors, opticians and opthalmologists are not very aware of this condition, therefore do not even consider it as a diagnosis.

At Sheffield Royal Society for the Blind we are working very hard to spread the word of Charles Bonnet and make people more aware that this condition exists. Since learning about CBS I have become very passionate about raising awareness for it. Together we can all help to spread the word.

Charles Bonnet Syndrome support

A note from SRSB

SRSB has a dedicated support group for people with Charles Bonnet Syndrome. If you have experienced visions as part of your sight loss and would like to talk to someone about it, you can contact SRSB on 0114 272 2757.

There is also a national campaign group called Esme's Umbrella whose aim is work towards a greater awareness of Charles Bonnet Syndrome. Their website contains lots of useful information.

Monday, 6 November 2017

Holiday in Whitby with the Sheffield Visually Impaired Walking Group - Ken

Sheffield Visually Impaired Walking Group (SVIWG) organises volunteer led walks for visually impaired people (VIPs) in and around Sheffield.

This user-led group offers VIPs the opportunity to go walking regularly, assisted by trained volunteer guides. They are one of the sports and leisure groups that are supported by SRSB.

They recently had a group walking holiday in Whitby.

Sunday 10th September

The coach which was hired for the duration of the holiday delivered us to the Saxonville Hotel adjacent to the Whitby FC Football Ground at approximately 1pm.

The majority of the party decided to walk along the seashore to Sandsend, then back via the cliff path. Four of the party attended a modern brass band concert which they thoroughly enjoyed while a few members decided to go under their own steam for a short walk.

All of the party congregated back at the hotel at 4pm ready to be issued with their room keys. Each evening meal was served at 7pm with a choice of three items for each course. Breakfast would be served at 7:45am with various foods to choose from.

There was a bar but no entertainment provided, so a few individuals participated in a short walk after dinner and located a few public houses to visit.

Monday 11th September

All those participating on the walk were to congregate in the foyer ready to leave at 9:45am. Beforehand Mary and Janet kindly volunteered to walk into Whitby to collect sandwiches for the majority of folks who required something for lunch.

The party travelled via coach to Saltburn where we were met by a couple of local ramblers who were to lead the walk. The distance was 7.5 miles walking along the sands via Marske-by-the-Sea through to Redcar.

The weather was fine but blustery, plus we encountered a couple of heavy showers.

On arrival we visited the Lifeboat Museum which most of the congregation found interesting. Sadly the trip up the vertical pier had to be postponed as it was closed. We therefore clambered back onto the coach bound for the hotel.

Tuesday 12th September

We boarded the coach travelling to Grosmont where the steam train was due to depart for Pickering. Some of us enthusiasts stood alongside the locomotive to see, hear and smell its departure.

Paula from the local Ramblers Association lead the walk taking the path from Grosmont to Goathland through a wooded valley and up a steady incline to Goathland station where we stopped for lunch. Some of the party dropped out at this point but others continued through an old miners' track onto the Yorkshire Moors then along to the pickup point where the coach was waiting.

On arrival back at the hotel, Paul and I had a walk into Whitby calling at the Railway Station to enquire about times and prices to ride on the steam train.

Wednesday 13th September

This was planned as a free day where anyone could do what they wished. The weather overnight had been atrocious and it was still very windy as we sat down for breakfast.

The lady from the local Ramblers Association contacted Chris and terminated the scheduled walk along the cliff tops. However Chris decided to go ahead and organise a walk for those interested.

The party of 11 set off from the hotel to the abbey incorporating the 199 steps. George and Andrew joined us previously having been dropped off via the coach.

We initially had a look inside the church before setting off along the Clifton Way through Saltwick Bay. We then walked alongside the foghorn which warns ships how close they are to land then stopped for lunch at the lighthouse.

David found a walking boot but no one in our party claimed it.

We walked back to the abbey mainly via road where we descended the 199 steps once more. At the bottom we decided to call and enjoy a well-earned drink before browsing the shops then strolling back to the hotel.

The group had a great time and all arrived safely back in Sheffield already talking about the next trip!

If you are visually impaired and would like more information on joining this group, please visit the SVIWG website.

Thursday, 26 October 2017

The Magic of Mappin Street - Amy

When my sight first got worse, I couldn't see the point of anything. There was no point in anything, because I couldn't do anything. Nothing right anyway because losing your sight ruins everything. Everything you do takes twice as long, even then you can't always do it properly. Just physically taking one step in front of the other involved a lot of concentration and focus. It was physically and mentally draining, it still can be.

For years I put off coming in to SRSB (Sheffield Royal Society for the Blind) because I just wanted to deal with things on my own. I didn't want the label of being blind, I felt that coming here would give me that label. I was wrong.

SRSB is a friendly place for people of all ages and sight levels. I imagined everybody to be sat talking about how bad their sight is. I just wanted to forget, not talk about it. I was wrong about that as well. The conversation varies like it does everywhere. But if you do want to talk about your sight, everybody will understand quite well. Even the staff have Visual Impairment Awareness Training. This gives them more of an understanding of what it's like living with sight problems. No divisions, no labels, SRSB is just a big group of friends together.

Eventually I felt ready to start moving on and making something of myself again. I had mobility training and started using a guide cane, which I was VERY reluctant to do at first. But it had to be done, it was the only way forward. While I was doing it, it didn't really feel like training. I didn't feel like I was learning anything. I then realised I wasn't learning anything because I already knew it. I knew what to do, I just needed the confidence to do it. At first I didn't feel more confident. I was still a nervous wreck, but I learned to ignore it.

The more time has gone on, the better I have become at ignoring it. There are still days where I can't ignore it, I think there always will be, but not as many. I needed to concentrate on where I was going and what I was doing, instead of worrying about everything.

The opportunity then came along for me to start volunteering for SRSB, working on the Blindlife Blog. Before I started coming here I felt like the only one in the world who can't see properly. Obviously I knew I wasn't, but it felt that way. Now I know that I am definitely not alone and many other people are dealing with the same things as I have.

I have had so many compliments on my writing for this blog, it is unbelievable. I have never seen myself as a good writer, or able to write anything that people would enjoy reading, so it has really surprised me. I also promote the blog using social media, which I enjoy. I always did want a job playing on Facebook!

One of my blog posts was used in a Living With Sight Loss course at SRSB. I was told that the post actually helped a few clients deal with and understand how they are feeling. Ever since I was a child I have always wanted to do something to make a difference to people who really need it. The reaction to the blog post has made me feel like I have possibly done that.

It has been suggested that I do some counselling training so that I can help people oven more. This is definitely something I am thinking about for the future.

I have also been given the opportunity to do collections for SRSB and help with Visual Impairment Awareness training.

I have been on the radio once and I have been asked to do it again on another station. Everybody seems to want to hear what I have to say, I don't really understand why. I'm only me, just saying it how it is.

Before I started the blog I felt like I had no opportunities and I never would. Now, I have so many, way too many to choose from. So for now I'm just trying a bit of everything and enjoying the ride.

 That's the magic of Mappin Street!

Friday, 13 October 2017

Non-slip tea trays - Graham

Tea trays are great when you can't see very well... until, that is, you trip slightly on the edge of a carpet or stair and the tray's contents start sliding about which makes matters worse.

A few years ago I went on a Blind Sailing Week in Cornwall and noticed that on yachts with small galley kitchens, thin sheets of perforated rubber material are used on most flat surfaces to stop cups and plates sliding about due to the side to side movements of the boat. It worked a treat.

So on returning home, I bought some rubberised material from Wilko's for a couple of pounds and it is fantastic to put on trays. It stops sliding completely.

It also protects posh furniture from ceramic vase bases scratching the surface and can be washed every now and then so it lasts for ages.

non-slip material on tea tray

At the time of writing Wilko's have the 'Wilko Dashboard Mat Non-Slip' in stock, priced £1.40.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

A Day in the Town - Dave

When I have the need to go in to town I walk quickly up the road and get on the bus, usually upstairs if a double decker is running on my route on the day. I know where the nearest bus stop is to where I need to go so I am ready to get off and head off into town.

I know the quickest route from A to B from where I am to where I need to get to, so off I go dodging round numerous people with numerous bulky shopping bags and around all the street furniture (which is the council's correct name for such things as lampposts and any other type of post) and the large refuse bins for communal use and the seating areas and the large square concrete planters containing pretty colourful seasonal flowers.

I arrive at the large store and know what I want and where it can be located, so I make a bee line for the desired area, get what I went for and I am away on the return trek home.

When I take my partially sighted daughter on exactly the same journey, we have had to learn "how to cope". I walk slower up the road whilst holding my daughter's arm and along the way I am letting my daughter know when we are approaching a section of uneven pavement, although my daughter does know our particular road layout pretty good now. On other roads I mention whether the upcoming curb to cross the road is a deep or shallow step and at the same time I am looking out for a dropped curb of a driveway, which does make crossing the road easier.

I find the nearest seats on the bus and try and sit down before we are jostled about, having our shins and arms and fingers bruised on the backs of the seating or the metal poles when the bus is in motion, although some bus drivers do wait for us to be seated before driving off when they acknowledge that my daughter has a white stick.

When we get near the bus stop to get off the bus I start looking around to see if anyone else appears to be getting ready to get off the bus and if so I look to see if they are going to be pushing pushchairs or going to be in our way for any reason that may prevent us from getting off the bus safely.

So, we are off the bus and jolly well off into the town. The first thing that I think about is that we are now walking two abreast with me needing to hold my daughter's arm to guide her past the hundreds of people walking towards us who in some cases are reluctant to give up even a few inches of pavement.

I hold my daughter's arm for reassurance, especially when it is a sunny day when the glare of the sun can make the going difficult for my daughter and the same if it is rather gloomy, but inbetween weather conditions is not too bad.

I am constantly looking far ahead for the most convenient route to take that has space for us to move unhindered and has even ground to walk on to get to our destination and at the same time looking for any immediate obstructions in our way whilst letting my daughter know what the state of the pavement is like ahead.

The first obstacle at the store is the door. Some you push, some you pull, some are automatic and some doors can be very heavy to open. Either way, I judge if the opening is wide enough to allow two people to get through side by side.

Then you are confronted with the aisles. Some are wide and some are narrow, it is easy to knock items off off a shelf if not careful and there is usually a display stand across the aisle to get around whilst negotiating the store full of people.

After making our purchase we most often find somewhere uncrowded for a sit down and a drink before we set off for our trek home, which gives me time to sit and reflect on how proud I am of my daughter, and how we most certainly have learnt "how to cope".

Monday, 11 September 2017

A night to remember - Amy

In the days when I was finding things hard, I was isolating myself from everybody, especially my friends. We never fell out, I just pushed them away. I sometimes felt like they didn't understand enough. I realise now that they did their best with the information they had, I never told them how down I was feeling. We kept in touch, but only just.

When I went into hospital they all sent me a get well card. I really wasn't expecting it and it meant a lot that they all still cared. It had been two or three years since I last saw them. I knew then that I had to make things right with them.

As I started to get better I saw my friend Hannah more, I saw her a few times on her own which I really enjoyed.

Not long after I got an invite on Facebook to my friend Adam's birthday, like I had done every year. For years I had always thought about going out too much and talked myself out of it. This time was different, something was telling me I needed to go. I spent a few days thinking about what could go wrong as always, but my gut feeling was that I had to go, I wanted to go. I was quite surprised with myself.

The night came and I met Hannah early while it was still light, one by one all of my other friends came. Each one gave me a massive hug and said they had missed me and how it had been too long. I could tell they genuinely meant it. I felt a bit odd and out of place because I hadn't been out with them all since my sight had got worse. I wasn't very up to date on all their news so half of the time I didn't know what to say, but they included me the best they could. I couldn't believe that after all that time, and all that distance, they all still wanted me around. It's like they were there, just waiting for me until I was ready. I felt so overwhelmingly loved that night, I still do. It's a night I never want to forget.

Nearly two years has passed since that night. I have been to just about every night out, every celebration, every gig and every get together. Most importantly, I have told them EVERYTHING that I should have told them all those years ago. And now, we are closer than ever.

My lovely friends Hannah, John, Adam S, Adam A, Michael and Chrissy!