Beyond Sight Loss Fundraising Event Success

Just wanted to share with you what a great time I had when I attended a fundraising event.  The event was hosted by and in aid of Beyond Sight Loss which is a peer led support group for visually impaired people living in Tower Hamlets.

It was an excellent evening.  There was music being played in the background and lots of raffle prizes were won by the members, which included high street vouchers, teddy bears and exhibition tickets.  Beyond Sight Loss are very grateful to the individuals and organisations who donated their prizes to the group.  Moreover, prizes were handed out to members who were able to give correct answers to ‘Guess the Weight of the Cake’ and “How Many Sweets in a Jar”.

Members also enjoyed their three-course meal.  It included samosas for starters, Undhiu (a variety of unusual vegetables, prepared slowly with small mildly spiced dumplings), served with naan and raitha for the main course, and mango sorbet for desert.  The food tasted fresh and was very delicious to eat!

Towards the end of the evening, everyone was in a great mood.  The members were dancing on the dance floor and having a fantastic time.  What can I say?  The fundraising event was a success and I’m already looking forward to next year!

Well done Beyond Sight Loss for putting on such a great event and to chairwoman Ashrafia Chouldhury for making it all possible.  Congratulations!

Written by Christine Edmead, ELVis Administration and Information Officer

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Why Social Groups are Important for Vision Impaired People

Let me tell you how I’ve become involved with East London Vision.  I became a member of the Hackney Vision Impaired group at the beginning of 2018.  I found out about the group through a Hackney-based organisation called Outward, and they referred me to the Low Vision Impairment Forum at Thomas Pocklington Trust, who then referred me on to ELVis.

Before joining ELVis, I felt completely isolated.  After graduating from university, a year ago, I couldn’t find work, so that led me to feel like I wasn’t doing very much and spending most of my time on my own.  It was a really depressing time for me.  When I spoke to Bhavini at ELVis for the very first time, she invited me along to the Hackney VI group, and I literally felt alive and hopeful that I would be back and part of the community again.

I started coming along to the Hackney group in February this year, and ever since then I’ve attended ELVis-supported events like the ten-pin bowling in Stratford, which I enjoyed very much.  The outings mean a lot to me and the rest of the group because it allows us to visit new places that we wouldn’t normally go to because ELVis always does a great job at making sure they’re accessible for vision impaired people, and that’s great!  We also have meetings with guest speakers like Graham from ELVis who gave us a demonstration of the Amazon Alexa and the Google Home speakers.  The group members find these meetings extremely useful because they’re informative and we learn about technology or services that can enhance our independence.

I feel really blessed to be part of the Hackney VI group.  I feel a sense of security knowing that there’s a group where I can meet other people who live with sight loss.  It has helped boost my confidence as I have more things in life to look forward to.  Also, social groups in general are important for vision impaired people because it gives us the opportunity to make new friends, exchange vital information and make a difference in the community.  I hope everyone who reads my blog post and isn’t part of a social group is encouraged to get out there and find one. Alternatively, if you live in Hackney, why not get in touch with East London Vision to sign up with our group.  I hope to meet you very soon!

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Photo of Tolga holding a bowling ball at a ten-pin bowling event with ELVis at Westfield Stratford City.

Written by Tolga, member of the Hackney Vision Impaired Group

An Interview with SocialEyes Member Janet Payne

To commemorate the 3rd anniversary of the SocialEyes vision impaired group of Barking and Dagenham, Ray spoke to one of the members, Janet Payne about what her experience has been like since joining the group.

How did you find out about SocialEyes?

“I came across East London Vision at an event and they were promoting activities run by local societies.  I signed up to receive information from them and that’s how I found out about SocialEyes.  I joined the group back in 2015 when it was in its baby stages”

Could you tell me a bit about your role at SocialEyes?

“When I first joined SocialEyes, Bhavini was still running it.  It wasn’t a big group so all the members would help out here and there.  When Bhavini got a job at East London Vision they were looking for someone to take on some of the responsibility, and since I wasn’t working at the time I took the opportunity.  However, I don’t lead it on my own – me and Bhavini work together.  I find out information and contact people for the meetings and Bhavini contacts speakers and carries out risk assessments for activities, so it’s really a joint effort between me and Bhavini.  I can’t take all the credit.”

Do you have any memorable moments in SocialEyes, like an outing or trip, or any members that are memorable?

“Ernie is a memorable character.  He is an older gentleman with sight loss and hearing loss and he is just a real bundle of fun and a joker to the tea.  For example, when we’re at the meetings and I ask him what he would like as a drink and he will say ‘can I have a gin and tonic’.  He’s a real joker and he’s always up for having a go at things.  One of the outings we did was go to the Queen’s Theatre in Hornchurch and that was really good fun because we had a behind the scenes look and a touch tour.  They were showing some of the props, and there was a string of onions because one of the characters was French, and I was holding it when someone said ‘let’s take a picture’ so I ended up in the photo with the string of onions around my neck.   It was really funny.”

What does SocialEyes mean to you and the members?

“To me it’s an opportunity to meet new people and get involved in new things I might not do otherwise, and for the members it’s one of the few things they do socially.  Information is good, but for a lot of people it’s the social interaction that they benefit from because a lot of it is getting to know other people, how they manage their sight loss and also building up friendships.   That’s the main thing.”

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Photo of Bhavini (left) and Janet (right) standing in front of a glass window with an East London Vision poster.

Written by Janet Payne and Ray Calamaan