We hope this newsletter finds you well. It seems like there’s lots of water under the bridge since our last edition. Perhaps that’s how things seem in the present circumstances, which we are all working through.
In this edition of Look Out! you’ll be able to read about:
- News about the services we are offering at the moment.
- Updated tips on keeping yourself and others safe during the pandemic.
- An introduction from our new Activities Coordinator, Tina Twibill, and an updated programme of face-to-face and Zoom events.
- Our very successful Christmas activities.
- Angie Matthews’ leaving party.
- Great news about our AVIATORS Project.
- A member’s general meeting in February, to change HSB’s legal status.
- An update on our distribution of Amazon Alexas to members.
- Calderdale Eye – your new audio magazine and how to take part.
- Other updates including new guest speakers, our work in hospitals, and how we did with fundraising at Tesco.
Meanwhile, we’re working hard and committing large funding to a major refurbishment of our new premises at Southgate in the heart of Halifax. More will be revealed soon, in Calderdale Eye – our audio magazine for people with sight loss.
|Official Notice: of General Meeting on 17th February 2022 There will be an all-members general meeting on Thursday 17th February 2022 at 2pm. The meeting will vote on changes to our Charity legal structure from an unincorporated charity to a Charitable Incorporated Organisation. This will not impact on the services provided, nor your rights as members. See page 8 for full meeting details and background information about this change.|
Current Services Update
2022 is here, and (at least) the start of it looks just a bit like 2021 and 2020. However, in our own way, HSB have learnt to find effective risk controls for our groups and events. It is heartening to know that our risk-based approach has avoided a Covid19 outbreak amongst members. This is how we plan to continue, so for now, we’ll be operating services as follows:
- We’ll continue to run a weekly programme of Zoom groups; you can join in informative and fun activities from your own home.
- We’ll make 1-to-1 appointments with you to explore items of sight loss equipment, through our Sight Centre at Clare Road, where we have bought some HEPA filter machines to protect our visitors.
- Regular face-to-face groups at Brighouse Rest Centre and the Maurice Jagger Centre in Halifax (read on for full details).
- Our Sight Centre will also run information sessions, which will be detailed in our weekly activities update email (please sign up).
- We will do socially distanced home visits where this is necessary.
- We will continually assess the risks and recognise that we’re not out of the woods yet, it is hoped that our new premises at Southgate will offer better Covid19 protection than our current location.
5 Top Tips for Protecting Yourself and Others in the Pandemic
Finding up to date information can be hard with sight loss. During the pandemic, we’ve passed on key facts to help you make decisions. Below, are recent observations from Independent Sage www.independentsage.org/
- When doing a lateral flow test, swab your throat AS WELL as your nose, even though the stick might be a bit short. It’s more accurate that way.
- Keep using face masks. FFP2 ones give protection against airborne viruses, for you and those around you. A handy metal strip over the nose part can shape to your nose and reduce steam-up of your glasses.
- Get jabbed, but remember it takes two weeks to reach full effect.
- We’re all seeing more people than previously, so be wise and have a few days break between meeting different people.
- Be aware that while your booster hugely reduces the chance of severe symptoms, immunity can start to reduce after ten weeks.
Introducing… Tina Twibill, Activities Coordinator
Hi, my name is Tina, and I am the new Activities Coordinator. Hopefully by now I have met many of you either at one of our groups or over Zoom.
A little about my background; when I left school I went into factory work as a machinist, after a few years I changed careers to work for Calderdale College, at first as a volunteer but then I was given a contract. After various jobs in the organisation, I finished as the Special Educational Needs Coordinator, where my role was to ensure students received appropriate support to achieve their chosen course.
After 30 years I took a break from education and started working at Café on the Track, a community Café run by Ravenscliffe 6th form (a school on Huddersfield Road) as a waitress front of house. I really enjoyed this job as I got to talk to lovely customers every day and all I had to do was make sure they had a great experience from when they walked in the door to leaving.
Then Covid hit and I was placed on furlough, during which I volunteered – going shopping for a couple of ladies that found it hard to get out. Again, I loved this as I got to talk to many interesting ladies.
I have many interests – going on holiday seeing diverse cultures, gardening, card making, socialising, baking, going to gym sessions and dog walking. If someone was going to describe me? I think they would say I was friendly, always have a smile on my face, outgoing, loud, caring and fair.
So, that’s me! I saw lots of ideas from the survey before I came to post and if you’d like to have a chat about our activities, or starting something new, just call me at the office – 01422 352383, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
|Regular Activities at Halifax Society for The Blind (Contact the office for further details)|
|Weekly (or most weeks)||When?||Venue|
|Brighouse Group – friendly gathering of people with sight loss, friends and family for social chat, information and games.||Mondays from 12.30pm to 2.30 pm.||Brighouse Rest Centre.|
|Tuesday Zoomers – different activities each week (guest speakers, quizzes, information, chat and workshops).||Tuesdays from 11am to noon.||Via Zoom.|
|Halifax Group – friendly gathering of people with sight loss, friends and family for social chat, information and games.||Wednesdays 2.15-3.45pm (1st, 2nd & 3rd week each month).||Maurice Jaggar Centre, Halifax|
|Thursday Fun & Games – with quizzes and games, keep yourself fit for fun. Bring your own cuppa!||Thursdays from 11.30am -12.30pm.||Via Zoom.|
|Chairobics! – 25-minute gentle seated exercise session for all ages and abilities.||Friday at 10am||Via Zoom.|
|Wellbeing Wise – looking after your wellbeing self-help group.||4th Wednesday each month||Via Zoom.|
|Synapptic Users Group – share experiences at this mobile phone and tablet user self-help group.||1st Wednesday of the month, 11am to noon.||Via Zoom.|
|Guide Dog Owner Group – a chance for current, past, and potential guide dog owners to catch up and share their experiences.||3rd Wednesday of the month, 11am to noon.||Good Mood Café, Commercial Street, Halifax (at the old toy shop).|
Using Zoom to Access Our Groups
To join our Zoom sessions, click this link https://zoom.us/j/9683947679 or on any phone, dial 0131 460 1196, then enter the meeting ID 968 394 7679, then press hash #. If asked for a participant ID just press hash # again and you’re in! Why not join our AVIATORS Project and get skilled up.
Big Thumbs Up for AVIATORS Project – Volunteers Needed!
We’re pleased to announce two-year funding from the National Lottery for our AVIATORS Project! This is exciting news and validates the project, all the hard work so far and all the members who have gone through the project and achieved positive outcomes. AVIATORS stands for Advancing Visually Impaired Adoption of Technology Out-Reach Service.
The volunteers who supported the AVIATORS project so far have been amazing. Patiently encouraging and supporting members to learn how to use the specially adapted tablets and mobile phones and we have had a huge success rate. There have been 41 members who registered interest in the project, and we want to continue building on this success by helping more local people with sight loss to access technology. To do this we need to increase the number of volunteers we have available. The support takes place once a week for about an hour, remotely so you do not have to leave the comfort of your own home.
You do not need to be technology experts as training is provided and support available. All you need is good communication skills and patience. If you could offer support to someone, show them the benefits of accessible technology with sight loss, help them connect with friends and family or support them to use online activities then please ring the office on 01422 352383 for more information.
You too can be a part of this amazing journey, be part of our fabulous team and make a dramatic difference to someone’s life. Sight loss is not a barrier to becoming one of our volunteers.
Good news! – Connecting people with Amazon Alexa
In the September ‘Look Out’ we talked about the RNIB Talking Books Alexa skill, with a Smart Speaker available for free. This makes it possible for visually impaired people to access audio books easier. We are pleased that each of the 18 devices ordered have all been delivered to the people who requested them. Happy listening everyone!
Farewell to Angie Matthews
Angie Matthews has been involved with Halifax Society for the Blind for over 12 years, so when she decided it was time to hang up her Sight Support hat and enjoy retirement, we knew we had to send her off in style!
We wanted to give members the opportunity to say goodbye and pass on their well wishes because we knew what a difference Angie had made to so many people’s lives. Somehow (we are not sure how!) we managed to plan a surprise party for Angie.
We held the party at the Maurice Jagger Centre under the guise of our regular group, the room was decorated, “afternoon tea” style refreshments were laid out and everyone one gathered. We then played our rouse and rang Angie to say we had forgotten something in the office and would she bring it down as soon as possible. The plan nearly fell through when Angie decided to knock on the kitchen window instead of coming through the door but with a bit of encouragement, she walked into the surprise of her life!
With the collection money we bought Angie her very own engraved brandy glass and brandy (Barry was very pleased about that!), a beautiful flower arrangement and a £100 voucher for Café Passion, one of Angie’s favourite eating places.
The afternoon was a bittersweet one as we said goodbye to our Angie, but we wish her all the best for the future and hope it’s not long before she pops in to see us. Here are a few of the pictures of the party. If you would like to see more, please visit our website at www.halifaxblindsociety.org.uk
Christmas 2021 at Halifax Society for the Blind
Well, against the odds we managed to bring some Christmas festivities to our members this year!
The festivities started with our Christmas Fair held at the Maurice Jagger Centre and was well attended. There was a great atmosphere as people chatted and enjoyed refreshments.
We had amazing stalls for people to browse including Sulky Fox, Black Cat Hampers, Snuggle Books, Knot Paper Scissors and Body Shop at Home. Each stall was selling lovely Christmas products. Our Sight Centre staff had a stall with wares from our Sight Centre and were on hand to offer help and advice.
Of course, there was a raffle with prizes donated from the stalls and from Pride and Provenance, Andrew Lomas Opticians and Home Instead. We even had a cake auction which saw two lucky bidders taking away a Christmas cake and a lush chocolate cake!
The Volunteer’s Christmas celebration was held online, and our fabulous volunteers met on Zoom. We had a Christmas quiz, a treasure hunt (always good fun) and a lucky dip Christmas gift. We were joined by Pete Hoey, Chief Officer who thanked the volunteers for all their help and support over the last 12 months. Without our team of volunteers, we wouldn’t have such a wide range of activities for our members, so we are very grateful to each of them. Our Chair of Trustee’s, Sue Mort was unable to make the event but also sent her thanks and well wishes.
Our Children’s Christmas party followed the Volunteer event and was a huge success. Again, we made the decision to have a virtual party, but this did not stop us having fun! Twelve children joined us for our “Story with Santa,” we played games and then sang as loud as we could in the hopes that the big man himself would join us. We must have done some good singing because he arrived!
Santa read the children Christmassy stories and told them some (truly awful) Christmas cracker jokes and then magically his elves made a small gift appear for each child.
The Brighouse Group and Halifax Groups enjoyed a festive themed final session of the year with Christmas quizzes and mince pies. Finally, the online social groups also joined in the celebrations with their own Christmas themed activities.
Important Member’s News – We’re Changing the form of our Charity
Resolution for consideration by the Members of the Charity at a Special Meeting to be held electronically on Zoom at 2pm on Thursday 17th February 2022 (two thirds majority needed to pass).
The Members of Halifax Society for the Blind (registered charity number 224258 – “the charity”) meeting in accordance with clause Q of the charity’s constitution hereby APPROVE the recommendation of the Executive Committee that it is advisable to dissolve the charity and that all activities and the net assets of the charity at 31 March 2022 (or such other date as the charity trustees may decide) shall be transferred to Halifax Society for the Blind CIO (registered charity 1197353). The date of dissolution of the charity (which may be later than 31 March 2022) shall be determined by the Executive Committee without further reference to members.
To join the meeting click this link https://zoom.us/j/9683947679 or dial 0131 460 1196, then enter the meeting ID 968 394 7679, then press hash #. If asked for a participant ID just press hash # again.
Calderdale Eye – Your New Audio Magazine
Halifax Society launched its first audio magazine, The Calderdale Eye, at the end of last year. We hope to send future editions out bi-monthly.
You should have received your copy of the Calderdale Eye in a purple wallet. The audio magazine comes on a memory stick which can be played by plugging it into a wide variety of audio devices, TVs or computers if they have a USB port. The next edition is due out in February. If you’re not sure you have a device to play this on or would like some support on how to play it, please contact us on 01422 352383.
Once you’ve listened to the Calderdale Eye, you simply put the memory stick back in the purple wallet, and remove your address card from the front pouch, and place that inside the wallet, and pop it all in the post (no postage necessary) and return it to Halifax Society for the Blind free of charge.
Contributing to Calderdale Eye
Calderdale Eye is designed to be for you, and from you. Its content is led by the interests and needs of all people with sight loss living in Calderdale – people like you. We know that sharing our own stories helps others in the same situation, so there’s no need to ponder whether somebody might find your own story interesting. Your story, by definition, is interesting!
To get involved and make or suggest an article you’d like included in Calderdale Eye, or to help create the magazine, please contact us. Your stories can be recorded over the phone, face to face at one of our groups, or recorded at our new premises, when opened. You can even leave a message for Calderdale Eye by putting an elastic band around the memory stick.
Each month will be different, so we’d ask that you listen to Calderdale Eye a few times, and if it’s still not for you, just contact us and let us know.
As some of you may be aware we hold our Tuesday Zoomers on Tuesdays at 11am. This session involves having a chat about a specific topic such as daily living aids or easy recipes. The session is open to anyone and it would be lovely to see some new faces.
The group requested some guest speakers and this week we were very lucky to have a session with Chris Reason. Chris is a new volunteer and has a remarkably interesting background in script writing for various shows such as Eastenders, Casualty and The Bill.
Chris told us how his career started and shared a few of his stories. Everyone really enjoyed the session, and he has agreed to come again. Look out for the activities update email for further information.
On Tuesday 8th February we will be joined by another guest speaker, Ruth Fones. Ruth is a local artist interested in sight loss, the way different conditions present themselves and how they impact people. Ruth has been collaborating with members from Kirklees Visual Impairment Network (KVIN) to learn more about sight loss and recently had an exhibition in Hebden Bridge to highlight her work. Ruth’s art captures the way people had described their sight with the eye condition they had. Ruth also had an audio description with each picture so that her work was accessible.
This picture depicts the description she was given from someone who has Macular Degeneration and is called “Lace Wall”
Ruth will be joining us to talk about her work and build her connections with local people with sight loss. Hopefully, this will lead to face-to-face workshops once we are in our new premises.
To join this or any of our zoom sessions please use this link https://us06web.zoom.us/j/9683947679 or contact the office for further information and support.
Working in Partnership to Improve Our Local Hospitals
We’ve also been working with Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Trust, who operate the Calderdale Royal Hospital and Huddersfield Royal Infirmary, to improve the experience of people with sight loss when attending appointments or visiting relatives.
Together with Disability Partnership Calderdale, we’ve listened to the experiences of members and taken up the issues mentioned to improve staff awareness, signage and the general hospital environment.
We’ve made videos which are helping to change designs in future builds – particularly the effectiveness of signage, and ways of easily getting directions and help.
We are really grateful to those who’ve taken part in group sessions around this, because this helped make long term changes. However, the next thing is to change hearts and minds, and we’re looking for people who are happy to talk for a short time on video about your experiences, and this can be used in staff training designed to improve the way that sight loss is worked with in our local hospitals.
We’ll be publishing the details of how take part through our activities email update, and through conversations with people attending our activities. Please let us know if you’d like to take part – it’ll be worth it, because your input will change things for many other people in the future. This information would only be used for internal training purposes.
Support for HSB at Tesco: Every Little Helps!
Just a quick thank you to everybody who took the opportunity to raise funds for us via Tesco’s Bags of Help scheme. Shoppers were asked to put tokens into one of three chosen charities. It was delightful to see HSB coming top in all the local stores. This meant we got the maximum grant. By taking part in this and choosing HSB, you helped us raise £1,000. Thank you!
Call HSB’s office: 01422 352383
Write: 36 Clare Road, Halifax, HX1 2HX
|How to Join Our Zoom Sessions To join, you can use one of these options: On a computer or smartphone, click this link https://zoom.us/j/9683947679 oron any phone, dial 0131 460 1196, then enter the meeting ID 968 394 7679, then press hash #. If asked for a participant ID just press hash # again and you’re in! Or;Save the one tap mobile below exactly as shown onto your smartphone and use it each time to join our Zoom sessions on the phone 01314601196,,9683947679#|
Halifax Society for the Blind is a registered charity (No 224258)