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News and Views Tenth Edition.

07 July 2014

Welcome to News and Views. We want you to enjoy this Newsletter.

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Please let Hettie McKeown know your preferred format.

Hettie can be contacted at telephone 028 3839 4088, or email: Hettie.McKeown@southerntrust.hscni.net


Do you want to add information for our next Newsletter?

Do you want to have your name removed from the mailing list?

If so please contact your local Resource Centre.

Telephone numbers are included on page two/track two.

Contact details:

The Sensory Disability Teams are based at two locations.
For people who have had services from Moy Resource Centre, or if you live West of the Newry Canal and South Armagh please contact:

Sensory Disability Team; Jackson Hall; Main Building; Saint Luke's Hospital; Loughgall Road; Armagh; BT61 9 FQ.
Telephone 028 3741 2364. Mobile 07919 10350.
FAX 028 3741 2087. Minicom 028 3741 2421

If you received services from Conifers Resource Centre and live East of the Newry Canal and South Down please contact:

Sensory Disability Team; Cherrytrees Resource Centre; 1a Edenderry Gardens; Portadown; BT63 5EA.
Telephone 02838394088. Mobile 0783 929124.
FAX 02838394095. Minicom 02838394738.

If you are not sure which office to contact, please do not hesitate to telephone any of the numbers provided and a member of staff will clarify the position for you and direct you to the appropriate member of staff.

Also, if you require any of the new details inputting to your phone, please contact the team and somebody will be out to assist you.

My Pony Driving Experience
By Jill Hanna
I have always had a great love for horses from a young age and then after I got married I even took up showing dogs, such was my love for animals.

Unfortunately this all came to an end when I lost my sight, but, having participated in the Fit 4 U programme I learned that there are still many things I can do once I get the help I need. I have done exciting activities that I never thought possible such as 4 wheel driving and hang gliding. To name but a few.

I now, too, have a Guide dog name Kate. Kate is my friend and companion. Little did I think that one day my love of dogs would lead me on to relying on one to help me get about.

My yearning for being around and riding horses has been rekindled. I therefore applied to Riding for the Disabled in Moira but, the demand is such that I remain on the waiting list.
One day I was informed about Pony Driving and I said to myself hey! This sounds a lot of fun.

Riding for the Disabled Association have not involved with Pony Driving in Northern Ireland in approximately 30 years. Joanne and Uel Orr live in Ballyward and thy started a Pony Driving Club last year. I and five other people were taught how to drive the ponies using a gig. A gig has two wheels or four wheels.

It was great fun. I started off with Bob who is a very quiet 27yr old pony. All ponies must pass the rigorous RDA inspection. With my sighted guide trainer, who has control of a set of reins, I was taught how to negotiate the indoor obstacles course that was serpentine in shape. When my confidence and skill increased I progressed to working with Taffie, a delightful pony, on a four wheeled gig. By the end of the season I was permitted to go out on a quiet country road for a lovely drive.

At the end of the season a lady official from RDA in England was invited to assess our new learned skills. Thankfully we all passed and we were presented with our Grade1 Pony Driving Certificate. We celebrated over a well-deserved a Bar-B-Q. I look forward to this season that starts again in May.

General information. The RDA Pony Driving Ballyward Banbridge. Have now purchase an adapted gig that will accommodate a wheelchair to allow anyone who is a wheel chair user to learn and enjoy the experience of Pony Driving.

Fees: 3 per person for people with disability.
Teaching courses 30 per hour (course duration 6-8 weeks.)
Contact Joanne & Uel Orr 028 40650436


Charles Bonnet Syndrome (CBS)

What is Charles Bonnet Syndrome (CBS)?
CBS is a condition that causes patients with vision loss to have complex visual hallucinations. This condition was first described by Charles Bonnet in 1760. Although the condition was described very early it is still largely unknown by ordinary doctors and nurses. This is partly because of a lack of knowledge about the syndrome and partly because people experiencing these hallucinations (or visions) do not talk about their problems; out of fear of being thought of as having mental health difficulties.

Who is affected by CBS?
CBS affects people with sight difficulties and usually only people who have lost their sight later in life.
An estimated one hundred thousand people in Britain have CBS, which leads to hallucinations. These can include visions of miniature people.
In an interview with the Daily Mail, David who is 73 and had been registered blind a few weeks earlier explains about the first time he had hallucinations and describes his visions in detail:
"....it came as a surprise when I looked up from the television and discovered that I was sharing my living room with two RAF pilots and a school boy. The pilots were standing next to the TV watching it as if they were in the wings of a theatre. The little boy was in a grey, Fifties style school uniform. He just stood there in the hearth looking puzzled. He was eighteen inches high at the most".

What causes CBS?
At the moment little is known about how the brain stores the information it gets from the eyes and how we use this information to help us create the pictures we see. There is some research that shows that all this constant seeing actually stops the brain from creating its own pictures.
When people lose their sight their brains are not receiving as many pictures as they used to. Sometimes, new fantasy pictures or old pictures stored in our brains are released and experienced as though they were seen.
These experiences seem to happen when there is not much going on, for example when people are sitting alone, somewhere quiet, which is familiar to them, or when they are in bed at night.

It is fairly normal for people who start to see things to worry about there being something wrong with their minds. Seeing things is often a sign of mental health difficulties and the threat of Alzheimer's can be a worry. People often keep quiet about their hallucinations for fear that people will think they are losing their minds. It is important to realise that failing eyesight and not any other mental difficulties normally causes CBS.

What kind of things do people see?
There seem to be two different kinds of things people see. Both of them can be black and white or in colour, involve movement or stay still, and they can seem real, such as cows in a field, or unreal, such as pictures of dragons.
Firstly, there are the hallucinations of patterns and lines, which can become quite complicated like brickwork, mosaic or tiles.
Secondly, there are more complicated pictures of people or places. Often whole scenes will appear such as landscapes or groups of people, which are sometimes life size and other time's tiny people and tiny things. These pictures appear out of the blue and can carry on for a few minutes or sometimes several hours. Many people begin to recognise similar things appearing in their visions such as distorted faces or the same tiny people in particular costumes.
Generally the pictures are pleasant although the effects can be scary.
What are the effects of the hallucinations?
Sometimes the complicated pictures can make it difficult to get around. For example, streets and rooms may have their shape changed and this can make it difficult for you to judge exactly where you are. A gentleman described how once approaching the top of the stairs he had a vision of being on top of a mountain and had considerable problems getting down the stairs. However, good knowledge of your immediate surroundings can help overcome this particular problem.
Is there a cure for Charles Bonnet Syndrome?
Unfortunately at the moment there is no known cure or treatment for CBS. However, just knowing that it is poor vision and not mental illness that causes these problems often helps people come to terms with them. Generally these experiences will disappear after about a year or eighteen months but of course this will not happen for everyone with the condition.
It is worth trying to change things when the visions occur to see if this will help them disappear. For example, if it happens in the dark then try switching a light on or if it happens in the light try switching the light off. If it happens when you are sitting down then try standing up.
Faye, who is 83 was interviewed by the Daily Telegraph states that
"Everyone who is losing their sight needs to be told about Charles Bonnet," she adds. "I've learnt to live with my visitor and when I need to go to sleep I focus on different things - I only wish he looked more like Clark Gable!"
If you have been having any of the symptoms of Charles Bonnet Syndrome and have been reluctant to mention your concerns to anyone; why not use this article as a conversation starting point. Please contact your local resource centre and ask to speak to a member of the Visual Disability Team for advice and support.

As many of you may realise we originally included this article in News and Views in 2010, this has helped to raise awareness of the condition for many of our service users. A few of you have asked if a support group could be set up to help those with this condition. While we would not run the group we could possibly help you to set it up - so please let us know if you would be interested in a support group for Charles Bonnet.

The Waking of Brian Boru - A Community Project to commemorate 1000 years since the death of Brian Boru and his burial on the Hill of Armagh
By Denise Lavery, Sensory Disability Team, Armagh

It has been very exciting to be involved in this local project along with the facilitator, Dr Sally Walmsley-Pledl. This is a very special community based project which involves all the primary schools in Armagh, the drama department of St Catherine's College, Lisanally Special School, The Trust Arts Care Choir, the Armagh County Museum, the Armagh Observatory, the Armagh Public library, three young Armagh Soloists and two community groups, one being a group of local Visually Impaired people and a group of Deaf people.
The project explores the real story of Brian Boru and discovering why it was so important for him to come to Armagh. The project is funded by Armagh City and District Council and belongs to the citizens of Armagh. It has been extremely interesting for the community groups to visit the Armagh Museum and listen to stories back in time to the 10th and 12th centuries and what Armagh would have looked like back then. The second workshop was in the Armagh Observatory were the Director, Mark Bailey give a detailed account of what the sky would have been like 1000 years ago and it was very interesting to visit the Public Library in Vicar's Hill and get the opportunity to hold books and transcripts in relation to Brian Boru's time in Armagh.
The workshops not only include interesting talks but the main focus is to produce amazing pieces of sound scapes, drama and poetry which will help to tell the story of Brian Boru. The workshops have been fun and have given people the opportunity to play various drums and percussion instruments.
The final performances will be staged in the Church of Ireland Cathedral, Armagh on 1st and 2nd May at 7.30 pm. Tickets for this event are free of charge from the Market Place Theatre, Armagh.

Information on Dry Eye.
What is Dry Eye?
Dry eye is one of the commonest of all eye conditions. It can occur at any age but is more common in older people and affects women more than men.
Your eyes are kept moist by tears, blinking spreads the tears across the surface of the eye. Tears contain a lubricant that keeps the eyes oiled and prevents infection, and slows down the evaporation of tears.
If this process is not working properly, you may suffer from dry eye.
Fortunately, dry eye is unlikely to affect your sight.
What Causes Dry Eye?
- A blockage of the glands in the eyelids that produce tears, due to the ageing process, is a common cause.
- Dry eye happens when the eyes do not produce enough tears or the tears evaporate too quickly.
- Watching TV, reading or using a computer can aggravate the condition, as we tend to blink less when involved in these activities.
- Exposure to dust, fumes and cigarette smoke can make the condition worse.
- Air-condition which produces a drier atmosphere can aggravate the condition.
- Medicines used for the treatment of high blood pressure or kidney disease can reduce tear production.
- It can occur in people with rheumatoid arthritis and other related conditions.
Symptoms of Dry Eye:
- A feeling of grittiness in the eye.
- Eyes are stinging or burning.
- Eyes can feel heavy.
- The eye is slightly red.
- Eyes can become sensitive to bright light.
- Mucus may collect on the lids.
- Symptoms getting worse as the day goes on.
- Eyes may water excessively.
- Talk to your GP about your symptoms.
- Use artificial tears drops, as directed. This can vary from a few times a day to every hour.
- Ask your GP for eye ointment for use at bedtime, this gives longer lasting overnight protection.
- Drops, usually known as 'artificial tears' are available with or without prescription from your chemist.
- Drink plenty of fluids to keep your body well hydrated.
- Avoid places where there are fumes, dust or smoke.
- Use wrap-around spectacles to protect from the wind when outside.
- Change focus by looking away and blinking, at regular intervals, when reading, using a computer or watching TV.

Contact your GP who will be able to advise on the best course of action, and be able to advise on the best treatment. Don't suffer in silence, there is help available for this common condition, which can be managed quite easily with appropriate eye drops.

Wheel of Life - Hope City Project
By Ruth Gillespie

I was involved along with 2 visually impaired service users and had the opportunity to take part in the Hope City Project which was organised through Artcare and facilitated by Eddie Rafferty, Artist in residence.

The group decided to focus on developing a personalised replica of the London Eye which included meaningful objects which related to our individual interests and lives being attached to a rotating bicycle wheel on a wooden plinth.

The project ran from 10 weeks with the group meeting for 2hrs once a week to work on the project.

I thoroughly enjoyed the project and getting the opportunity to participate in art work which I had not been able to do for quite some time due to my loss of vision really motivated me. It was so rewarding when our work was exhibited at the Artscare launch in the Market Place Theatre and then showcased for the month of September.

I am excited and delighted to have been asked by Armagh City & District Council to have the "Wheels of Life" on display in the Market Place Theatre for the Giro de Italia in Armagh in May.
A very worthwhile project to have been involved in.

Community Access Service:

My name is Louise Mallon I commenced post April 2013 as a Community Access Officer covering the Southern Trust locality. I am employed by the RNIB in conjunction with the Southern Health and Social Care Trust. I work alongside health and social care professionals throughout the Trust Area. My localities include Armagh, Dungannon, Craigavon, Banbridge, Newry and Mourne. I am based in Cherrytrees Portadown and St. Luke's Armagh.

The Community Access service enables individuals who are blind or partially sighted to build on their skills, abilities, interests and aspirations for the future. The service provides support, assistance and advice to anyone who is blind or partially sighted over 18 years of age living within the Southern Trust locality.

My role involves providing information and opportunities for individuals who are blind or partially sighted to engage in social activities, leisure activities, education, training, employment and volunteering within their own community. Where possible re-introducing people to interests/hobbies they once enjoyed prior to sight loss.

The process of engagement is person centred hence it is important to be creative and responsive to meet the needs of the individual. On receipt of a referral from a service user or health professional I normally visit each person in their own homes or facilitate a meeting in setting of choice within the community to identify their interests and motivation and to determine what support is required to link the person into the wider community.

Opportunities include mainstream groups, senior citizen groups, visually impaired groups, walking clubs, luncheon clubs, local regional colleges, local leisure centres, women's/men's groups, specific IT training programmes for those with a visual disability, specific work placement opportunities, befriending/volunteering opportunities, fitness/activity programmes offered by local leisure centres designed for people with disabilities.
The Community Access services aims to promote integration into the community for those with a visual impairment promoting choice, empowerment, inclusiveness and independence. Reported benefits of the service include increased confidence, enhanced skills and improved feelings of self -worth.

Without a Pencil to Chew On
by Mimi Winer, Wayland, Massachusetts
Even before I began keeping a diary at age nine, I loved the physical experience of putting words onto paper. I vaguely recall encountering the first of my many writing tools when the teacher handed out fat red pencils on day one of elementary school. At that time (circa 1936), children in the lower grades did not tote backpacks to school.
By second grade, we carried a two-drawer pencil box instead. Along with a pencil sharpener, the top drawer contained several number two yellow wooden pencils--each tipped with a pink eraser. The other drawer held a pair of blunt scissors, a six-inch wooden ruler, and a tube of glue. I don't remember ever using anything from the second drawer, but the moment I opened the top drawer and my fingers touched those yellow pencils, I knew I wanted to be a writer.
In the early years, I wrote in longhand. Sometimes I added pencilled notes in the margins. Whenever I was stuck, I sharpened a new pencil and chewed on it for inspiration. This ritual generally awakened my muse. After arming myself with the pencil's rubber tip, I would attack my manuscript and, breathing a sigh of relief, blow the erased debris away.
At about age twelve, I added a bottle of blue ink and a fountain pen to my writing equipment. (Ballpoint pens had not yet arrived on the scene.) Before moving on to pen and ink for revisions, I wrote drafts with my faithful yellow pencil.
During my sophomore year in high school, I learned touch typing. My reward for this diligence was my very own Smith Corona manual typewriter. Now I could write stories that looked more like the print I saw in magazines and books. I set my margins at one-and-a-quarter inches, indented five spaces for the first line of each double spaced paragraph, and transcribed my copy onto manuscript-quality paper. Typing final revisions was not easy. I used a "correctable" paper that facilitated error erasures. However, sometimes this procedure did not work well enough. If the results looked messy, I had to retype the entire page.
For me, the process of writing was a visual one. Punctuation marks, sentences, length of paragraphs, the entire layout of a manuscript came from my visual judgment of what appeared aesthetically appropriate. Although I did not know it then, my approach to writing would change dramatically over time.
In 1962, I suffered a flu-like illness, which resulted in a partial loss of sight. This sudden visual disturbance made typing manuscripts more tedious, but it gave me an excuse to buy myself a present. Encouraged by having won a few writing awards and having sold a couple of magazine articles, I treated myself to a new Smith Corona electric typewriter with a whiteout correction cartridge. This modern innovation somewhat compensated for my less than perfect vision. If I made a mistake, I no longer had to retype the whole page. Removing the black ribbon and replacing it with the whiteout cartridge allowed me to correct errors by typing over them.
As the years progressed, my sight continued to deteriorate. I could barely see what I was writing. Rather than multiple cramped sentences, a few enormous words now sprawled across an entire page. I began writing drafts with a black bold point pen and switched from my updated Smith Corona to a large-print typewriter for revision work. I could read what I had written, but submitting manuscripts to editors in this format was not acceptable.
One joyous day, a machine known as a "closed circuit television reading system" arrived at my office. It occupied my entire desk. This state-of-the art reading/writing device for people with low vision had two magnifying lenses which made print appear enlarged. One lens, focusing on my draft, gave me a view of what I had already typed. The other allowed me to read the typing of the current revision. This ingenious setup extended my writing career for a few more years. Unfortunately, the giant print could not keep up with my ever-diminishing eyesight. My childhood ritual of sharpening a pencil and chewing on it for inspiration no longer worked.
Although adaptive computer technology for the blind had been available for several years, I was slow in embracing it. In the late 90s, along with complete vision loss, I developed tremors in both hands. Despite my excellent typing skills, my fingers would not cooperate. Unbeknownst to myself, I was producing multiple unintelligible keystrokes. Confrontation with this dual disability and my need to write forced me to give up old habits and move forward.
Thanks to assistance from our state agency for the blind and the wonders of modern technology, my writing tools have morphed into what I consider a blind writer's nirvana. I have traded my pencils for a tiny audio digital note taker and my typewriter for a computer that talks to me as I type.
The necessity of having to type text and execute all commands via the keyboard while I listen to audio feedback has distinct advantages. Unlike sighted writers, who have the ability to use a mouse, my hands rarely leave the keyboard. I believe this uninterrupted hand-to-brain connection gives my creative juices a more natural flow.
I wonder how I ever thought that writing was a purely visual craft. Now that I have converted from visual to audible, I find getting unstuck with my writing--even without a pencil to chew on--is the way to go.

Sound Mapping Armagh City Centre - A Tactile Map for Visually Impaired Users and visitors.

This community inspired sound project is due to commence in May 2014 and aims to highlight the experience of visually impaired people and the challenges they face in walking around the streets of Armagh by enabling them to create a tactile map, with aural annotations, reflecting their recommendations on map content and presentation.

Non-sighted participants and their sighted guides will undertake sound walks focusing on aural cues and sounds in Armagh and the need to identify safe walking routes. Facilitated workshops using recorded walk commentaries will provide participants with a chance to share experiences of mobility issues and to collaborate on developing aural annotations for use in the tactile map.

The large tactile map made from hard plastic will illustrate identified safe routes; locate local services and places of interest. The design of the map in collaboration with the Braille Unit at HMP Maghaberry will incorporate a handheld 'key' map to aid those with no sight in their usage of the larger map with sound buttons.

It is suggested that aural material generated during the project will be used to produce a sonic piece - A sound Walk through Armagh - to be exhibited locally. This offers a unique means to highlight the challenges of visual impairment and to present the Sound Map of Armagh to a wider community beyond that of the project participants.

If you live, work or visit Armagh and have limited vision to get around independently and would like to take part in this project, please contact Denise Lavery, Rehabilitation Worker, Jackson Hall, St Luke's Hospital, Armagh, Tel: (028)37412364

RNIB has moved House!
The RNIB Northern Ireland has moved to a new address:

RNIB Northern Ireland
Victoria House
15-17 Gloucester Street
Belfast BT1 4LS

TEL: 028 9032 9373

How to get to the RNIB NI Head Office:

From Belfast Europa Bus Centre, Glengall Street
Private/Public Transport

- A Black taxi rank is available from the Glengall Street entrance
- Value Cab (Private hire) is also situated opposite the Glengall Street entrance

On foot
- From Glengall Street, Turn left onto Great Victoria Street.
- Turn right onto Howard Street.
- Passing the rear of Belfast City Hall on your left.
- Continue east on to May Street.
- Turn left onto Montgomery Street.
- Turn right onto Gloucester Street.
- RNIB NI, Victoria House will be on the left.

From Belfast Central Station, East Bridge Street, Belfast

Private/Public Transport

Black taxi rank available from main entrance, Value Cab (Private hire) rank available at downstairs entrance
Taking a Metro Bus to May Street from Central Station
- Turn left from main entrance of Central Station and walk (west) 100 yards/metres to bus stop, take any metro bus (all go up May Street.) every 10 minutes.
- Get off first stop in May Street walk 50 yards/metres (west) to pelican crossing, cross here.
- This crossing is at top of Montgomery Street.
- Half way down Turn right onto Gloucester Street.
- RNIB NI Victoria House is on the left.

Travelling in from the Greater Belfast Area to Lagan side Bus Station.
- Turn left onto Queens Square.
- Turn left onto Victoria Street.
- Turn right onto Gloucester Street.
- Walk up Gloucester street heading west
- RNIB NI Victoria House is on the right.

For more information contact the Translink Contact Centre on:
Tel: 028 9066 6630

By Car
Nearest car park: Montgomery Street multi-storey car park or Victoria Square Car Park.

Utility customers with specific needs

The Consumer Council is currently working with suppliers to provide advice and guidance on the information developed for consumers, maintain and update the registers, collecting figures on the size of the registers and promoting their existence and importance to consumers.

Critical Care Registers:

Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE) and NI Water operate a Critical Care Register where they keep details of consumers who rely on electrical equipment or a water supply for their day to day care. In the case of electricity customers this includes medical equipment such as oxygen concentrators, patient vital signs monitoring systems and home dialysis. With NI Water their Critical Care Register is for consumers with serious medical conditions.
Adding your details to this register will allow NIE and NI Water to prioritise your contact details if your supply goes off.
In the event of an interruption that is scheduled by NIE, they will contact you at least three days beforehand and inform you of the expected duration of the interruption and in the event of a power cut or loss of supply you will be kept updated. In the event of an un-planned power cut your call will be given priority. NIE will then contact you regularly during the power cut with up-to-date information.
NI Water will also arrange an alternative water supply in the event of a prolonged loss of service and give all customers 48 hours' notice in the event of water services being off for longer than 4 hours.
Customer Care Registers:

All electricity and gas suppliers in Northern Ireland must keep a Customer Care Register with the details and special needs of customers who are of pensionable age, disabled (by virtue of being blind, partially sighted, deaf or hearing impaired) or chronically sick. Suppliers can provide free assistance and services to customers who register their details with them. These services include bills in different formats such as large print or Braille and password schemes to help identify representatives from a service provider.

The Consumer Council has compiled a list of the services offered by the different companies and the contact details required to register with each company.
Electricity, gas and water suppliers in Northern Ireland offer a range of free additional services for older consumers or those with specific needs. To find out more about these services you can contact your supplier using the details below:


Power NI (Customer Care)
Telephone: 08457 455 455
Minicom: 08457 147 128
E-mail: home@powerni.co.uk
Website: www.powerni.co.uk
Address: Power NI
120 Malone Road

SSE Airtricity (Special Assistance)
Telephone: 0845 601 9093
Fax: 028 9043 7750
E-mail: customerservice@airtricity.com
Website: www.airtricity.com
Address: Airtricity Supply (NI) Ltd
2nd Floor
83-85 Great Victoria Street

Budget Energy
Telephone: 0800 012 1177
Fax: 0287 1275099
E-mail: customerservice@budgetenergy.co.uk
Website: www.budgetenergy.co.uk
Address: Budget Energy Ltd
Energy House
30-32 Ballinska Road
Springtown Industrial Estate
BT48 0LY

Electric Ireland
Telephone: 0845 600 5335
Email: customerservice@electricireland.com
Website: www.electricireland.com
Address: Electric Ireland
Forsyth House
Cromac Square

NIE (Critical Care - information service for those who depend on life supporting electrical equipment)
Telephone: 08457 643 643
Minicom: 08457 147 128
E-mail: customercontact@nie.co.uk
Website: www.nie.co.uk
Address: Northern Ireland Electricity
120 Malone Road

NI Water
For all emergencies as well as day to day enquiries throughout Northern Ireland, call us on:
Waterline: 0845 744 0088
If you want to report a leak in the public water supply, call:
Leakline number: 0800 028 2011
(24 hours a day, 7 days a week)
In the event of flooding from burst watermains or blocked sewers contact us on:
Waterline: 0845 744 0088

SHSCT Vision Forum

In line with good practice, the Visual Disability team in the Southern Health and Social Care Trust has always sought the views of its service users, carers and families. The Vision Forum was re-established in 2009 in order to provide a forum for service users with a visual disability to express their views and provide feedback on services. The purpose of the group is to;
- Inform service users of service developments
- Seek service user feedback on current services and proposed developments
- Enable service users to influence service development
- Measure the effectiveness of the service
Membership of this forum consists of 23 service users with a visual disability from across the Trust area and is chaired by the sensory Disability Services Manager. There is representation from individuals across the whole age range and the meetings are held every 4 months. Discussions are often lively and members have commented that it is an excellent opportunity to have their voices heard and to be able to represent the views of others. Agendas are drawn up in partnership between the members and the Trust.

The last Vision Forum took place on Thursday 13th February at 10 am in Cherrytrees Resource Centre. Items that were discussed included;

1. Patient display boards at Hospitals and Doctor Surgeries
2. Talk Talk See - a useful application for your I-phone/Android Mobile device.
3. Articles of interest for this Newsletter.
We are eager to recruit additional members for the vision forum. If you are known to the Visual Disability team and are interested in becoming a member of the Vision Forum, or would like more information, please contact Liz Tanner, sensory disability services manager, on 028 38394088.


RNIB Looking Forward Project.

The Looking Forward Project aims to provide practical and emotional support to newly diagnosed blind or partially sighted people (focus age sixty+) at greatest risk of exclusion and/or isolation using the following two prong approach;

(a) Counselling
(b) Peer support programme

The project offers face to face, time limited counselling i.e. six sessions each lasting one hour. The counsellor's practise within a variety of counselling approaches which integrate with Humanistic principles. Current approaches include integrative, person- centred, gestalt, and existential, psychodynamic and psycho synthesis.

Looking Forward intends to have a volunteer counsellor in each of the five Trust areas in Northern Ireland.

Peer support will form part of an on-going continuing support within the Project. Following the counselling it will help clients to obtain both practical and emotional support in different arenas e.g. this could be one to one over a cup of coffee or a group of people meeting together to support each other or have an over the phone conversation.

How can I get an appointment?

Contact us at lookingforward@rnib.org.uk or 02890 334100 to make a referral or to find out more about our services. You will be invited to have a telephone assessment with a trained counsellor to discuss your situation and explore if counselling is the right thing for you at this time. If we are not the right agency for you we may be able to refer you on to another service.

Referrals can be made by an individual that meets the referral criteria;

(a) They are aged 60+ or will be during the project term of three years
(b) They are newly diagnosed as blind or partially sighted.

Looking Forward accepts appropriate referrals from GPs, Social Services, the Police and other professional agencies, as well as from self-referring individuals or through our helplines.

All routine referrals to colleagues and other services should be discussed with the client in advance and the client's consent obtained both to making the referral and also to disclosing information to accompany the referral.

The service will receive referrals now and counselling will commence week beginning 13th January 2014.

New shopping service opens in Newry.

For many blind and partially sighted people shopping on their own can be a very daunting and difficult task.

A new Sighted Guide shopping service has been officially launched in Belfast and will make a positive impact on the lives of blind or partially sighted people. This innovative project has been developed through a partnership with RNIB NI and Shopmobility across five key retail centres in Northern Ireland including key sites in Belfast, Newry, Cookstown, Carrickfergus, and Derry/Londonderry.

Speaking at the launch of this new sighted guide service, Michael Fenton, CEO for Shopmobility NI said "Following on from the success of a pilot sighted guide shopping scheme at Forestside Shopping Centre in Belfast the RNIB approached us to roll out the scheme across flagship shopping sites in Northern Ireland. This scheme demonstrates to the wider public that Shopmobility provides more in terms of mobility support to people, than scooters and wheelchairs."

The scheme will allow an individual who is blind or partially sighted to book time with a volunteer shop guide through Shopmobility for the agreed time of between one and half and two hours. RNIB has assisted in the recruitment of volunteer guides and has provided accredited Visual Awareness Training for all five retail centres.

Shopmobility Newry is now in a position to offer a free Sighted Guide Service. Although based in the Buttercrane Centre - this service covers all of Newry City centre.

The service will be available to clients for a 2 hour slot on Mondays and Wednesday's between 10.30am and 3.00pm and clients need to book 48 hours in advance.

For more information or to book a slot, please contact Shopmobility Newry, Monday - Friday 10.30am - 5pm. Telephone number 3025 6062.

The Double A's Cookery Corner.
We really hope that you have enjoyed our recipes over the last nine editions of this newsletter; we would love to hear from you. Have you tried any of our recipes, or do you have one or two recipes of your own that you would like to share with us? If so please contact us as we would love to try them.
Now for something tasty.
Stuffed Mushrooms - Serves 2-4

4 Large flat mushrooms
50 grams breadcrumbs
50 grams philadelphia garlic & herb soft cheese
4 rashers streaky bacon

Finely chop bacon and lightly fry in a little oil.
Leave to cool.
Wipe mushrooms with a piece of kitchen roll.
Place on a baking tray gill side up.
Mix bacon with the cheese, then spoon equal amounts onto each mushroom.
Sprinkle the breadcrumbs on top and drizzle or spray with a little cooking oil.
Place in a preheated oven 350 deg. for 20 minutes, or until the breadcrumbs are a golden colour.
Serve on a bed of lettuce leaves with halved cherry tomatoes. This makes an excellent starter.

Cheese Cake - Serves 6-8.

6ozs crushed Digestive biscuits
3ozs butter - melted.

Mix the butter and crushed biscuit.
Spread evenly in a spring loaded 8 inch cake tin and refrigerate.

1 Lemon / lime jelly melted in a pint of water and left until almost set.

1 packet Dream topping & 4fluid ounces of milk whisked together. 200 grams Philadelphia cheese.

Whisk the cheese, jelly and dream topping mix together until smooth.

Pour unto the biscuit base and refrigerate for approx. 2 hours.

Topping ideas: mint aero, crushed flake, orange aero balls, raspberry ruffle, After Eight mints.

A Final Note from the Editorial Team.
The Editorial Team endeavours to include as many articles as possible from people with sight loss and we hope that you have enjoyed these and possibly learnt something from them. If you have any interesting articles or would like to suggest an article for the newsletter, please let us know. We are especially looking for people to join our News and Views Editorial Team so if you would like to submit an article or join the team please contact your local Resource Centre as we would love to hear from you.
Yours sincerely, Anne Willis, Ann Mallon, Laura O'Reilly, Gerald McEvoy, Jill Hanna, Katrina Boyd, Ruth Gillespie, Bronagh Lynch, Denise Lavery Newsletter reader, Donal Connolly Newsletter Reader. Ray Maxwell, Editor.

The Editorial Team would like to end this edition of the magazine with a THOUGHT FOR THE DAY.

"Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties." Helen Keller






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