Our services include practical help and advice, and a wide programme of activities designed to provide emotional and wellbeing support.
General advice and support
Our friendly staff team is available 09:30 - 13:30 Monday to Thursday by phone and in person. We have a variety of resources and materials available in the office, including lots of helpful leaflets, a Reading Hub with facilities for reading documents, and a range of specialist equipment which can be ordered through us. We are always happy to offer advice and discuss our members’ needs.
Our experienced Sight Loss Advisor, Nic Ford, is able to visit you at home to assess for, provide, and advise on the use of certain safety equipment to help you with daily living tasks such as making hot drinks, cooking, and getting out and about with confidence. We can also provide advice on other helpful equipment, such as talking clocks and watches, big button telephones, and large print diaries and calendars. If you need specific support with technology (e.g. smart phones, tablets), please see the details of our Tech Mate service, below.
Referrals for talking books and talking newspapers*
Talking books and newspapers are often a lifeline for our members, particularly if their eyesight deteriorates and watching television or reading physical books and newspapers becomes difficult and frustrating. We can provide a listening device on loan free of charge and manage the referral process for you.
Administration of British Wireless for the Blind Fund equipment*
We provide stereo equipment on loan from the British Wireless for the Blind Fund which enables people on certain qualifying benefits to enjoy a variety of recorded media in their homes for free.
Equipment Demonstration and Advice Days
These events enable people to come and experience a range of equipment and assistive technology, get advice from our specialist staff team and share a cuppa and a chat with others. We invite partners from relevant local organisations and national manufacturers of specialist equipment to join us at these events, so each one is different. Why not come and join us to see what we have to offer?
Tech Mate project: support with assistive technology
The internet and technology are transforming the way we live our lives and have enormous potential to help people with sight loss with how they shop, keep in touch, access information and entertainment, and more. Tech Mate is a new service designed to help you with technology, regardless of your current level of knowledge. Support is available in the office by appointment or drop-in (Thursdays between 10.00 – 12.30), or a home visit can be arranged. Our Tech Mate Project Leader, Neil Newton, is sight impaired himself and is here to support you if you don’t know where to begin, have a specific problem or query, or simply want to try something new on your mobile phone, tablet or computer. We have a large range of devices and software for you to try to help you make the best decision for your needs.
Campaigning and awareness-raising on sight loss related issues
As the only charity providing direct services to visually impaired people in Wakefield, we believe it is important that we represent our members’ interests regarding relevant local matters.
In 2017, we applied pressure to local bus route operator Arriva Yorkshire when they decided, without consultation, to re-route one of their buses so it no longer stopped outside our Parkside Centre premises. Arriva Yorkshire listened to our views and we were thrilled when they announced that they were reinstating some stops in Outwood, including the one outside our office on the 110 bus route.
Community outreach work to reduce social isolation
We run regular coffee mornings at the Parkside Centre in Outwood and in partnership with The Cluntergate Centre in Horbury and the St. Giles Centre in Pontefract. Our newly-established Younger Members social group also meets regularly at various venues in central Wakefield. We organise a variety of social trips and one-off events during the year, so please keep an eye on our events page and our Facebook page to find out what we're up to.
Our befriending service is fantastically valuable for members who may find it difficult to get out and about. The service is run by specially trained volunteers, who make regular calls or visits to people who may not be able to attend our other social groups, or who are feeling isolated. Please note there may be a waiting list for this service.
Friends on the Phone
If you find it hard to get out and about, or would like to link with a wider circle of people, why not consider joining our Friends on the Phone network? Friends on the Phone works by matching small groups of 3 or 4 people together, who agree to share phone numbers and decide between themselves when and how often they are going to chat to each other. It’s a great way to keep in touch and make new friends. Since we launched this service in 2018, it has become fantastically popular, and the friendships that have flourished as a result really are a joy to see. Some of our groups now meet up in person, as well as chatting on the phone, so why not give it a go?
This is distributed to over 1,000 members and stakeholders locally, and includes the latest news about what we’ve been up to as a charity, forthcoming diary dates, relevant sight loss related news from the local, national and international media, a quiz, and signposting to other services and events of interest. The newsletter is available in large print, audio CD, audio USB stick, and Braille, as well as by email. In addition, all our members receive a birthday card every year, as a little reminder that we are here for them.
Signposting to other services and support
We work closely with Wakefield Council and other local organisations and groups, so that we can promote each other’s services and make sure that our members get access to the full range of opportunities and support that are available in Wakefield. If you know of something going on locally that our members might be interested in, please get in touch as we’d love to feature it in our newsletter and other communications channels.
Partnerships with relevant organisations
We believe very strongly in the power of collaboration and welcome opportunities to partner with other organisations. We are looking forward to partnering with the Live Well Wakefield service in 2019 to deliver an Expert Patients Programme especially for visually impaired people. We are also very excited about working with our friends at The Hepworth and The Art House during what will be our 150th Birthday year!
* These services are made possible with the kind support of Wakefield Metropolitan District Council with whom we have a service agreement which partially funds these services.