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Photo of Anne at an activity laughing

When Anne first went to Rotherham Sight & Sound (RSS) following a visit from Pete who was one of our Community Advice Officers (CAOs), little did she know what a big part of her life RSS, SRSB and our clients would become for her.

She recalls the day that Pete visited not long after our centre in Rotherham had just opened and helped her to fill out some forms “Pete was the nicest grumpy man I had ever met!” she jokes, “He encouraged me to visit the centre and before I knew it, there I was, armed with butterfly buns and biscuits at one of the groups!”

Anne had worked in catering for many years, as a chef at the old Woolworths in Rotherham then working in various hospitality settings, such as hotels in the Devon area. She returned to the north in 2012 and Anne’s husband sadly passed away in 2017.

Anne is sightless in one eye and her central vision has now deteriorated in the other as a result of a growth behind the eye. She also now has cataracts. However, she is quick to point out that she keeps a positive attitude “Do what you can and don’t think that you can’t do things. Just do things in a different way, just go and try things.”

This is certainly what Anne has done since accessing our services. She has joined several groups including the Hard of Hearing group, Tinnitus Group, flower arranging, tango, tai chi, day trips, theatre trips and more! She has also had practical support with benefits forms from our CAOs “I don’t care which CAO it is, they are all as good as each other!”

Anne also talks about the people she has met “It is through RSS and SRSB that I met several other clients who have now become firm friends. And I never dreamed that I would end up dancing with the Mayor of Rotherham!” (During a visit at one of the groups) “I have had fantastic experiences, such as visiting the Jewish Museum in Nottingham, the Mosque in Sheffield, the National Arboretum and many other trips.”

Our groups and other services help to increase our clients’ confidence and can be a stepping stone to them feeling that their sight loss doesn’t define them – they can access many things they may have thought weren’t possible and discover new and different things, so that whatever stage someone is at on their sight loss journey, they can plan for their future, whatever that may be.

In the case of Anne, she has now turned her hand to volunteering, something that many clients like to do, both to give something back and to share their lived experience to support others. Anne now facilitates the Charles Bonnet Syndrome (CBS) Group and during lockdown, she adapted to support clients by being one of or team of volunteers contacting clients by telephone and also running the CBS group by telephone conferencing while restrictions prevented the groups taking place in-person.

Like many of us, Anne is looking forward to getting back to accessing our services as we transition back to ‘the new normal’. She finishes by saying “Without RSS and SRSB I would have had a life, but not as good a life. There is always something new, and my advice is keep open to doing lots of things!”

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