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!

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Impaired Visions - a poem by Mike

MikeOnce I had good vision, and life seemed fine
Along came two strokes, time to toe the line
Things taken for granted, seen as clear as day
Now smothered forever in a misty way

Now I live in a world that's passing me silently by
Viewed though as through a misty fogged up eye
It’s just like, all around me has suddenly changed
Viewed with fogged up eyes, my sight rearranged

The moon and the sun's magic is still up there in the sky
But the wonder and glamour have gone for my misty eye
However I have new wonders instead to brighten my day
I have Charles Bonnet Syndrome with lovely display

These visions, along with a positive view, have brought life
I now through this condition, along with positivity, not strife
Experience nice people, gaudy costumes, colours and shapes
Live life in a positive manner, go for it don't give in friends.

Monday, 7 August 2017

Memories - Amy

AmyIt can take a long time to get used to the changes in your sight. Not just for you, but for your family and friends. When your sight was once fairly good, it is hard to accept. In time you get used to it.

Your family and friends know how to help you and when you need help. You learn that it's always OK to ask for help and feel more confident about doing it.

Different people will move on at different paces, that's OK too. In time though, you will move on. Even though you have moved on, you still have the memories. In all of my dreams I can still see clearly. I sometimes have my white stick, I sometimes need help, but I can see clearly.

When I'm watching my favourite TV programmes and films I remember what the characters really look like, not what my eyes think they look like. This is hard if I am watching something new and I have to learn all of the characters for the first time.

In some ways the memories are good because they make certain things easier. In other ways the memories can be mean and make things disappointing.

A few days ago I decided to put on a DVD, remembering how the film looked when I was a child. When the film started, I looked at the screen and it looked nothing like it did in my head. It was an animated film, just bright colours moving around the screen. Occasionally I would notice a character's face. They weren't on the screen long enough for me to recognise them though.

I often wonder why I still watch these films, it just brings back the realisation of how bad my sight is, and how good it used to be. I could not concentrate on the rest of the film as it upset me too much. Instead I had a moan to a few of my good friends and tried to cheer myself up.

I sometimes wonder which is better, to be born with bad sight, or to have fairly good sight and lose it. It makes me wonder if you are born with bad sight, that you can't miss what you never had. But I would imagine that some will think "I would love to have just one day where I can see properly, just to experience it".

I do feel lucky for once having good sight. I also feel lucky that my sight isn't any worse than it is. I guess this is something there will never be one set answer to. It all depends on the individual person. And nobody will ever experience both sides of the story.

Since I have been volunteering at SRSB I have come to believe that sight doesn't have to be labelled. There doesn't have to be good sight and bad sight, everybody is just different. In the short time I have been here I have learnt that sight varies in many, many different ways and levels. Some people who have not experienced any sight problems seem to think that you are either blind or you can see. That is very far from the truth.

Memories can be hard, but they are what keep us all fighting for a better future.

Monday, 17 July 2017

Thank you Mappin Street - June

JuneMappin Street helps to fill my week
Wednesdays it's the choir, Fridays I get to speak
Wednesdays I enjoy singing many of the old songs
I used to sing in choirs and family singalongs
Fridays I write stories and rhymes it never ends
I started with poems for cards for family and friends
The subjects so varied, we all try our best
Sometimes we are serious but mostly they're in jest
The staff and helpers are priceless and help to make our day
So there's a pat on the back and hip hip hooray
So hope to see you all again quite soon
Love and best wishes from a grateful member June

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Trust - Amy

AmyEverybody likes to have people around them who they can trust. People who they can trust to be loyal, respectful, caring, understanding. and somebody to keep all of your secrets!

When your sight is bad, there is a whole new level of trust needed. As well as all the usual things you need from a good friend, you need them to be your eyes. You need to trust without any doubt that your friends and family will keep you safe. If you don't, this can make things difficult and put you off going out with them.

Whether you are very dependent or independent, if your friends can see properly, your safety is in their hands. Your life is in their hands. This doesn't make them your carer, it just means they will see things that you wont.

Making new friends is always fun. Going out with new friends for the first time can be very scary. With your usual friends you start to develop a routine. Your friends know when you need help and when you don't. They know which side of you is the best to walk and how fast to walk. They learn the obstacles you will probably notice, and the ones you probably wont. With a new friend this is all brand new.

You also need to trust that your new friend wouldn't just leave you to find your own way home. Even if you had a disagreement, you need to trust your friend will see you onto your bus or into a taxi.

If anybody is reading this who has good sight, and has a friend with bad sight, please think about this. If your friend is always making excuses and doesn't want to go out, this could be why.

If you think your friend may not trust you, it is probably nothing personal, or anything you have done wrong. It is just a new level of trust that you both need to learn. Even with the closest friends, this can take time.

Luckily I have the world's most amazing and trustworthy friends.