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Photo of Jean at SRSB

Jean tells us about the Look Ahead Workshops 

Jean experienced sight loss incredibly suddenly in the space of a bus ride from Sheffield city centre to her home. She was unaware that anything had happened until she got back and realised she could not see properly. A blood vessel had burst in her right eye. It was, she recalls, very traumatic.

She was able to have surgery two days later which seemed to be successful at first but then her sight deteriorated so that now she sees everything in miniature. Jean also has macular degeneration in one eye which affects her sight too.

That bus journey home changed everything for Jean. She went from being a person who was always out and busy to someone who did not want to go out at all. When she started coming to SRSB/RSS she joined the Look Ahead Information Workshops and says the sessions which run over two and a half days really helped to change her outlook. “It made a big difference to me. I am never in now,” she said.

The workshops bring together people who are adjusting to sight loss or are experiencing changes in their sight loss. They aim to offer practical information on daily living skills, technology and mobility as well as the emotional impact of visual impairment.

“I made my mind up that I could either adapt or sit in a chair and think ‘woe is me’. Coming on the sessions made me see what there is out there. You need to get yourself in the right frame of mind to do it.”

Jean was amazed at the range of activities on offer at SRSB and RSS. She was a very active bowls player for more than 35 years and a member of 8 different leagues. She had given up playing before her sight loss due to an ankle injury, but one of the activities she is now going to try is bowling for partially sighted people which takes place at Hillsborough Park. 

At the Look Ahead sessions, Jean was able to meet people who use other services and staff members who facilitate them. She thought about the ones she might like but ruled out swimming which she never enjoyed and decided the crafts were not for her.

But she has joined the curling group which was a sport she had not attempted before. “I had to get used to the change in technique from bowling but I am now enjoying it. They’re such a happy crowd, everybody is cheering each other on. Some people are fully blind and able to do it.”

Jean also enjoys coming to SRSB before the curling for lunch. “It’s really good, we have soup and a roll. I am just beginning to get to know different people,” she said.

“I can’t take part in too many activities, I need to leave time for other things. But at least I am not sitting in the house moping. I make my mind up at night what I am going to do the next day. I try to be independent and do as much as I can. Look Ahead helped with that too, covering all the things to assist you with daily living.”

Jean says the items she has found really useful or would like to buy are a daylight light, talking books, a PenFriend which can read labels and helps you find food or other items, and a beeper device for filling a cup. She also finds that special shaded glasses help her sight outdoors.

And for the practicalities of life, Community Advice Officers (CAOs) at SRSB/RSS have also helped with tasks which would be difficult for her such as completing the 45 page form for attendence allowance. It means she is able to have help in the house and garden.

“My only fear is losing my sight completely but there is no point in worrying about that. I am not sitting at home feeling miserable. Think positive.”

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Sheffield Royal Society for the Blind links