Our quarterly newsletter FOCUS is now online!
As well as being mailed out to thousands of our service users in audio CD and large print formats, you can also access our newsletter online! Below is an audio-only podcast style version of Christmas 2019’s FOCUS Newsletter, we hope you enjoy it!
Welcome to the Christmas 2019 Focus Newsletter!
Chief Executive’s Welcome
Merry Christmas 2019! Where has this year gone to?
This newsletter has a variety of items that we hope you find informative and entertaining ranging from Nicky discussing smart technology that has been introduced into Liverpool, called “the Connectivity Scheme”; Iain Mitchell, who is leading on the Sight Loss Council locally, is going to tell us about the work they have been doing and future plans.
We also have Carla Cope from MSB Solicitors to talk about will writing, but specifically an on line will writing service; Jamal will be talking about our Resource Centre which has now been running for a year, clearly providing a valued service to those people using it, and helps raise money to enable us to continue providing our services; Margaret Guppy is really looking forward to Christmas and will be talking about gardening and cookery and also has a specific offer for anyone on their own at Christmas, provided she isn’t inundated, she will be more than happy to have people around for Christmas lunch.
We also have an article from Jen at Oxsight, who have designed a set of spectacles that use a complex version of lenses to try to brighten up and widen the visual field. This is particularly beneficial to people having tunnel vision. Demonstrations of these glasses are provided around once per month. They are also in the processes of launching the new glasses which will, hopefully, then begin to help people with central field loss.
Wendy Booth, who came over to us from Christopher Grange earlier in the year to join our Rehab Team will talk about kitchen skills being taught at the Sight Loss Learning Hub and link this to some new equipment that is available from our Resource Centre.
Louise Miller’s here. Louise changed her role during this year to be more responsible for some fundraising activities and will give us some clues on our priorities for the moment and as we move into next year.
We have now launched a telephone information line that can be accessed by dialling 0151 221 0889. This is recorded every Friday and provides information on some of the things that have come to our attention over the previous seven days, or events that are coming up over the next few weeks. Well worth listening to and any feedback you can give us would be absolutely marvellous.
One of the things that we will be exploring for next year will be to work more closely with opticians, hopefully developing a scheme whereby maybe, perhaps, hopefully, somebody buys a pair of glasses and maybe a small donation from the sale of those glasses from the opticians into a fundraising account for us. Gill Dottie is likely to lead on this for us and there’s quite a nice tie-up next year because, of course, it’s going to be 2020 and twenty-twenty vision sort of fits in so we are looking forward to that.
May I take this opportunity on behalf of all of us at Bradbury Fields to wish you a really Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. In memories of this time of the year are people who, sadly, are no longer with us as well. It’s important to acknowledge that. Our wishes and thoughts go with you all for a lovely peaceful period.
Jennifer Gregory is the dispensing optician covering the North West Region for Oxsight.
Oxsight are smart glasses, using cameras and LED screens to enhance the remaining vision of those with eye conditions such as Retinitis Pigmentosa, Glaucoma and Hemianopia (which usually happens due to a stroke). There are many other conditions which can be helped as long as the wearer experiences tunnel vision.
The glasses are lightweight and sleek. They look more like glasses than the VR headsets, they are not big and bulky.
Nearly one hundred people across the UK have had their sight enhanced. A couple of people from America have also flown in specially to try them.
The glasses help to expand the field of view and enhance vision in dim lighting.
People have used them to enhance their vision in their social and work life, taking them to restaurants and theatres, used them in meetings. It allows them to see a lot more at once and sometimes it can make things brighter and clearer too.
Jennifer comes to Bradbury Fields every other week, holding “demo days”, where bookable appointments are arranged. You can try the glasses in a one-to-one setting privately in a nice quiet room and see what they are like for yourself.
Normally people only know if they will benefit from these glasses when they try them, which is why these appoints are made to enable you to try them out.
You can find out more by visiting the website which is www.oxsight.co.uk. There’s more information line and you can also pop into Bradbury Fields to get more information and leaflets from the reception area.
If you would like to book a demonstration you can do this by the website, ring a number of complete a consent form.
The customer care team are available on 01865 580255. They can book you an appointment or give you some information.
Sight Loss Council
Iain Mitchell from the Sight Loss Council says he has been quite busy recently. The Sight Loss Council is now meeting on a monthly basis.
There are ten members of the Sight Loss
Council and they have all been busy in various activities on behalf of the blind and partially sighted community in the Greater Merseyside region, including people from Knowsley, Wirral and Liverpool.
A couple of the more noticeable inputs have been working with the NHS on making reasonable adjustments when people are accessing GP and NHS services and are part of a new group that was set up, called the Sensory Group that works out at Sefton, and they are looking at the journey people take from their first point of contact with their GP to their referrals to hospitals and maybe all the way through to being admitted for an overnight stay. The NHS England guidelines on accessibility are being used. People with hearing as well as visual impairments can expect to be accommodated too.
The Sight Loss Council has worked with Bradbury Fields on outlining a Passenger Charter on the buses. It is broadly along the same lines as the RNIB recommendations in 2014 but with our own local tweaks added on so they have actually asked that all drivers have visual awareness training but delivered by someone with experience with sight loss.
They are developing a good relationship with the Merseytravel Transport Committee, who are open to dialogue. As things go forward other issues will come up. One of the things being pushed for is to have audio software on all buses announcing stops.
They’ve been working with the Apple Store in Liverpool One to try to get bespoke accessibility training just for visually impaired people. When they were first contacted them, they said they do provide accessibility training but then said that this was open to everyone with various disabilities.
We asked to work with them to develop one just for people with sight loss, which they have been doing and have increased the number of staff so there has been as much as one-to-one support, whereas normally you would just have one person delivering a training session to ten people, and they themselves see how this has benefited their staff in making it more effective and efficient just by having visually impaired people going through the accessibility components of an iPhone or an iPad.
The other good things is that this takes away age restraints as many companies say that all their training videos are on line, but you need to learn how to get on line to be able to do that.
They also want to engage is getting peoples’ opinions on what they think are the key issues facing them on a daily basis, living in the Merseyside Region, so they are going open up and develop in the New Year a large consultation event where everybody will be invited. There are no restrictions to it whatsoever.
Because they can’t deal with individual complaints, being there to raise public awareness and affect decision making. If they see there is a pattern of issues facing people, they can look at that and plan to have a “you say, we do” session and would like to start engaging with people at the beginning of 2020 so that they set the agenda for what they want the Sight Loss Council to achieve in the next twelve months, and obviously feedback will be given on their success.
This can be done in a number of ways, ideally in a way that works best for the majority. It can be done as one big one-off event but that does not necessarily make it accessible for everyone, so it could be that several events are held around Merseyside and give people more than one opportunity to attend something. The idea is for people to feed in to what they think they need the Sight Loss Council to be doing and it will be for the greater good.
There will always be key themes coming up, such as transport. Also, employability, which Bradbury Fields, the Sight Loss Council and Jigsaw are working on a project on.
Our Resource Centre has just had its first birthday!
It’s been a fantastic year in which we have developed and grown as we have more products, there’s a greater selection for our service users, families and carers to look at.
The products range from everyday kitchen items to a wide range of talking timepieces and accessible watches and clocks.
We’ve also developed an IT sector with more products coming in.
We also have focus days with our partners so they can give demonstrations on high-tech pieces of equipment.
When the suppliers arrive in the mornings, they spend time with our staff, giving them the opportunity to look at things and update their knowledge, which is valuable for the suppliers.
We now have our volunteers supporting us in the Resource Centre, demonstrating those products to our service users.
2020 is going to be a very exciting year as we have some new, innovative products coming through to the Resource Centre.
We don’t sell some of the bigger products but let people see the potential of them and the individuals just talk to the companies themselves. If anything is purchased, the suppliers make a donation to Bradbury Fields which helps our fundraising and income generation.
If people are buying items, please remember the benefit that Bradbury Fields will get from your purchase.
You can buy with confidence at Bradbury Fields as we have longstanding relationships with our suppliers, which are getting stronger and stronger through the focus days and through being part of the service. In this way you get a full holistic service from the point of the aftercare, which is essential. If a problem should arise, you can come back and see us and our partners who want to build relationships with their customers, as it is about the quality, the convenience and the value.
We also work with Merseyside Independent Living Centre as one of our partners (MILS), specifically a broader range of products as many of our customers haven’t just got a sight problem, they might not be so good with their hands, difficult movements on their feet, etc., so there is a range of different products that can also be demonstrated through us and then ordered through them.
It’s been a fantastic partnership with Liverpool MILS, based at the Brunswick Dock, and we’ve brought some of their products into the Bradbury Centre enabling people to see products that can enable individuals to live independently, given the fact the products are there. It’s only a small selection but you do get a customer guarantee with the products.
RNIB closed their resource centre and we are eternally grateful that they donated their fixtures and fittings, helping ours to look so good. Because that facility is no longer available we are seeing visitors from all over the place, Wrexham, Manchester, etc. This says something about the service and that people are prepared to travel. We’ve also had a lot of postal requests which is through the confidence of people being able to trust. That’s testament to the level of customer care and selection of products we have.
Our selection of products has changed since last year as that is the nature of the retail sector, it changes constantly, and having a place where you can come in, have one-to-one sessions with Jamal, who is a qualified rehabilitation officer
and also the interaction with our dedicated team of volunteers who can offer help and support, so you do have that confidence when you come into the centre.
Some of the volunteers are themselves visually impaired so we get constructive feedback on things that they may have found to be quite helpful and worth looking at.
In terms of the Resource Centre, it is a fantastic achievement and Phil thanked Jamal for the effort that he has put in as these things don’t just happen and it’s a tremendous service which is terrific for us all and everybody sees it as an extra opportunity for people.
It’s nice to see people just coming in and meeting each other.
In January we are likely to have Christmas cards being sold cheaply as well as diaries and calendars.
Be Active Service Nomination
Our Be Active service. which has been run by Jamal Abdullah over the past few years. has been nominated for a national RNIB award at an award ceremony at the end of November.
Whatever happens at that event, the nomination says it all, people believe this is a really valuable service so well-done Jamal and thank you to the volunteers, for your Team of the Year nomination and congratulations to everybody for making this service work so well.
The Importance of Making a Will
Carla Cope from MSB Solicitors wants everyone to understand the importance of making a Will and said that Bradbury Fields have signed up to a new on-line Will scheme which will, hopefully, enable many of you and your friends and family to make a Will on-line for free.
If you wish to do so you can log on to the website under www.bequeathed.org/Liverpool
Bequeathed are a company who are working closely with many charities in order to offer a free Will. When you log on to the website the website will ask you for some initial information, e.g., your full name, address, date of birth, information regarding your estate.
If you answer questions as you go along, the Will will be drafted in the background and once you get to the end of answering the questions, the Will be drafted for you. If you then wish to print that Will off and have it signed and witnessed with the instructions provided, then that Will is absolutely free.
If you also wish to leave a gift to Bradbury Fields, there’s a big section about leaving a charitable legacy.
However, many people don’t necessarily feel comfortable with signing their Will without taking some legal advice and if you then wish to take some legal advice you can contact Carla at MSB solicitors on 0151 281 9040 and she will be happy to discuss this with you.
If you manage to answer the questions and are happy with the Will but want to take some simple advice, the cost of doing so is £125 plus VAT.
However, if you wish to not necessarily go on-line to make a Will, then MSB will prepare a Will for you at a cost of £250 plus VAT.
Again, if you wish to leave any gifts to anybody in particular other than Bradbury Fields, then we can help you with that too.
If you would like an appointment at Bradbury Fields or in one of our offices based in the city centre, Allerton or Wavertree, we would be happy to accommodate you. Alternatively, we can call out to see you at your home.
On a final note, we will also discuss powers of attorney for both property and financial affairs, and the importance and differences between them.
The Margaret Guppy Corner
You might not be aware that a lot of house plants are quite poisonous to dogs and cats.
These include Cyclamen, Swiss Cheese Plant, Aloe Vera which does not have healing properties to dogs and cats, Poinsettia is quite poisonous particularly if chewed by a dog or cat, Lilies (particularly the pollen) – so remove the middle bit of the flower, Chrysanthemums, Sweet William and Carnations and Pinks are also poisonous and you might be surprised to hear, Holly and Ivy.
All can have an adverse effect on animals if chewed.
Don’t forget to tidy the shrubs in your garden. Give them a short haircut for the winter! And there’s still time to plant those few bulbs you forgot but will just flower a little later.
This is the time to sit back and order your new plants for the spring.
When you are busy at Christmas, cooking for everybody else and preparing for the festive season, there’s nothing wrong with a simple, good, old fashioned recipe.
Bananas and Custard
One pint orange juice or a pint of custard
Four white bananas (for four people)
Slice the bananas into the sweetened orange juice if you prefer it to ready-made custard (cold or warm)
Don’t forget to cook your turkey upside down so that the juices go into the turkey. Don’t stuff it, doing the stuffing separately.
Some Other Things Margaret Wants You to Know
The Talking Newspaper goes out once a week, you don’t have to be visually impaired to receive it. If you haven’t got a machine to play the sticks, it can be provided if you just ring
0151 486 1400, tell them you want to be a new member, they will take your details. The Talking Newspaper is free of charge.
The Bradbury Centre holds a monthly quiz night on the first Thursday of the month, at 7.45pm. It costs £3 per person and the bar is open. It’s a pleasant evening.
The Macular Society meets at Christopher Grange on the third Thursday of every month from 10.30am until 12 noon. Margaret runs the Partially Sighted and Macular in the City Centre too, meeting at Radio Merseyside at 2pm on the first Thursday of the month. Everybody’s welcome and they usually have a speaker and a cup of tea and a biscuit afterwards and occasionally they go out on trips.
Finally, for anyone on their own at Christmas, please get in touch with the Bradbury Centre and we’ll try to sort something out. It’s usually eating at Margaret’s and she hasn’t poisoned anybody yet so you are all welcome but don’t come in a coach because she does have a limit on how many she can feed on one session!
Friends of Bradbury Fields
Earlier in the year Louise Miller let you know about our Friends of Bradbury Fields membership scheme and now wants to give an update.
So far she’s had over seventy sign-ups, which is absolutely incredible and thank you very much to everyone who has signed up.
It costs £25 per year to join the scheme and when you sign up you get a membership pack which includes a membership card together with some gift vouchers as well as discount codes for different services, a free meal in the Bistro and a few other bits and bobs.
The membership fees help towards providing services for blind and partially sighted people.
Over 60% of our funds come from the Government, the rest come from donations and gifts left to us. We understand that those you care about come first but a gift donated to Bradbury Fields could really make a difference.
If anyone is interested in signing up to become a Friend of Bradbury Fields, or maybe you would like to buy it as a Christmas gift, then please get in touch with us at the usual number. Or if you are considering leaving a legacy as a gift to Bradbury Fields, again, just give us a call on 0151 221 0888 and Louise would be more than happy to have a chat with you.
If Louise is not around as she is usually out and about with her lovely guide dog, Harmony, please just leave her a message and she will get back to you as soon as she can.
Bridge the Gap
Jill Barlow’s company, Jigsaw, deals with employment which is a key issue for blind and partially sighted people not getting into employment or staying in employment.
The Bridge the Gap project deals with coaching people, giving them the chance to hear themselves speak and come up with solutions.
Visually impaired people often are blocked from accessing employment, which could be for several reasons such as lack of confidence, lack of availability of suitable training, volunteering or employment opportunities.
Bridge the Gap aims to improve the employment prospects of people with a visual impairment in Liverpool City Region, combining grass-roots and strategic approaches to:
Identify & address unmet employability needs of VIs
Collaborate with partners to create opportunities
Develop strategy for future funding and action
Low confidence or lack of self-belief in VIs
Lack of suitable opportunities for training, volunteering or employment
Limited understanding of employers about VIs
1:1 coaching or advice meetings
Explore the issues and change perspectives
Identify skills and interests
Group meetings based on requested topics
At an Employment Engagement Event at Anfield Stadium on 20th February 2020, Bridge the Gap aims to:
‘Bridge the Gap’ between VIs and employers
Showcase skills and abilities of VIs
Challenge the myths
Highlight practical, financial and technical support available
Create opportunities for Vis
The project is a twelve-month scheme, initially working with 24 visually impaired people just to try the process to see if it has worked.
Living with Sight Loss Course
at Christopher Grange, now known as the Sight Loss Learning Hub
Wendy Booth is a rehabilitation officer working at Christopher Grange for the last eighteen years before being transferred to Bradbury Fields in February this year.
The Living with Sight Loss Course comprises of kitchen skills, daily living skills and an introduction to IT.
The Kitchen Skills and Daily Living Skills course runs for about six to eight weeks, the kitchen skills concentrating on safety, not talking about learning to cook, doing recipes, etc.
The course is all about building people’s confidence and getting them to be more independent.
They do lots of different tasks on the Kitchen Skills course. One of the first things they do is to make a hot drink safely.
The Daily Living Skills element of the course runs for eight weeks, going through registrations, eye conditions, mobility, sighted guide, and then on to things like household tasks, recognising money, etc. It is an enjoyable group session and an opportunity to meet other people.
The next course starts on 28th January 2020 but there is an interview day on 14th January 2020, so anyone interested should contact Bradbury Fields on 0151 221 0888 or ring the Sight Loss Learning Hub on 0151 220 2525.
Nicky Barnett said people might have noticed that there are a few changes being made to Liverpool City Centre. The one heard about most is the Churchill Flyover which is being pulled down.
There is a City Centre Connectivity Scheme over Victoria Street, Moorfields, the bus hub coach park, Canning Dock footbridge, Brownlow Hill, Tithebarne Street, The Strand and Lime Street. This is a massive area but they are trying to get it so that it is easier for people to move around.
Nicky said one of the things that might be of interest is the Tokyo-style pedestrian crossing. This is a new type of crossing the idea being to stop traffic at all four junctions when you have a cross junction. Timings will be taken into account and the idea of it is to allow pedestrians to cross either straight across as they usually do, or also to cross diagonally, from one corner to a diagonally opposite corner.
Nicky is told there is going to be a high friction surface and colour contrast so people are going to be able to see the direction in which they can travel to get to where they want to go. High friction means they can feel it and hopefully long cane feelers will be able to feel it to.
It might make journeys a bit shorter and make time to get used to but will save time.
The other thing we have heard about is Smart Group Technology, a firm that has created tactile surfaces with embedded technology to alert visually impaired people walking on them to hazards and or to provide them with useful information when used in conjunction with one of their smart canes, a smart shoe or a smart walking stick.
It needs to be used in conjunction with a mobile phone app.
The smart care and smart shoe have an embedded chip in the insole of the shoe or something that attaches to the cane, it talks to the user and has an integrated detector for use with the smart grid.
Basically what happens is, where there is tactile markings at the moment on pavements, they are putting their own tactile which will feel exactly the same but is more durable and cheaper to insert, but have cards with a chip on which messages can be recorded. When you use your cane and sweep over it or step onto it when using the smart shoe, it will give you information such as you are approaching a crossing at such and such a road, or if the crossing is out of use due to roadworks it will say “this crossing is out of use, the nearest crossing is ……” and will give you directions.
It will know which direction you are coming from so can tell you whether things are on the right or left, and will be across the whole range of where the tactile usually is, which can be quite a large range.
Some of the smart tactile surfacing has been put down in Knowsley and Liverpool City Council have commissioned some for crossings presumably in the City Centre, but we are not sure whether the canes are yet available for use.
There is another piece of equipment they have which is another cane not used in the traditional way. It has a wheel which is pushed forward in a straight line, it has sensors on it similar to the old ultra cane, but gives you a wide angle of cover and will be able to identify objects if used in conjunction with your mobile phone and Bluetooth.
More information will be out on our newsletters or information line as and when we find out more.
Isn’t It Amazing!
Margaret Guppy has a little story that might amuse you, called Isn’t It Amazing.
Isn’t it amazing how a guide dog can invoke questions of the silly kind, the angry kind and sometimes the downright offensive kind!
Is that a blind dog? No, it if was we’d both be in trouble!
When Margaret hears “aren’t you beautiful” she knows that the voice is not directed her, after all she’s spent a lifetime trying to cultivate a personality, beauty fades, hopefully charm doesn’t!
When someone says to Margaret’s dog “what’s your name” she often wishes she had taken a course in ventriloquism. It never ceases to amaze her how the simplest journey can be an adventure.
A question once asked by a fellow traveller was “isn’t it wonderful how the dog knows the number of the bus”. No, darling, it works like this. I put my hand out and when the bus stops, I ask the driver the number. On a good day you might get a civil answer. On a bad day when you’ve got Mr Grumpy it’s “what’s the matter, can’t you read, are you blind”. Well, actually ….
Then, when you are on the bus you know people are willing and watching you and hoping you are not going to find an empty seat. I think it’s called entertainment.
Trains are no exception. There is always one person who complains because your dog is taking up a valuable space of a human being. It’s called man’s inhumanity to canine friends.
Hotels and restaurants are a bundle of laughs. How can it be that in the second decade of the 21st century, some restaurants still think guide dogs are prohibited? Actually it is against the law to refuse a guide dog entrance to anywhere.
Quite recently Margaret was asked to sit in a corner. Why? The answer was “so that you don’t distress the other customers”. Margaret’s answer to that is that she has never knowingly thrown a bread roll in anger, swore or been drunk in a public place. If disability offends some members of the public, then Margaret can only feel pity for their lack of understanding.
Only recently in a hotel someone came up to Margaret and said “I don’t like dogs”. Reply “that’s alright, I don’t like some humans”.
And you’ve never lived until you have walked into a room full of people who are silenced by your presence or indeed been unknowingly left alone in a room because everyone else has gone and you are still trying to put the harness on the dog.
Fortunately Margaret has trusted all her lovely guide dogs implicitly. They have a phenomenal memory and have never lost her.
Just occasionally a child will restore your faith in human nature. For instance there was a little boy aged seven who knocked on Margaret’s front door and asked if he could take her to the shops. Margaret suggested that he got permission from his mum first. If she was a touch cynical she might have thought it was the dog who he really wanted to take for a walk!
Isn’t it amazing that through the eyes of innocents there is a glimpse of hope for the human race and man’s inhumanity to man might one day be consigned to the history books.
Although we make every attempt to ensure that the information contained within the newsletter is both timely and accurate, Bradbury Fields cannot be held responsible for any information that is within it. This newsletter is provided for information purposes only and is not intended to be either legally binding or contractual in nature.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this Newsletter and look forward to meeting you again when we present our next Newsletter.