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".