VIDEO: Doncaster charity giving visually-impaired people support

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A Doncaster charity is providing hope for those with ailing vision.

The message of the Partially Sighted Society on Bennetthorpe is that there is life after sight loss.

Marcus Charles and Andre Plant in the Partially Sighted Society's printing room

Marcus Charles and Andre Plant in the Partially Sighted Society's printing room

It's a small operation, with just four staff members and five volunteers, but the group is helping people all over Britain and beyond.

The society shows people how to get the best out of whatever sight they have left, and the organisation has some nifty gadgets at its disposal.

There are all sorts of magnifying devices to help visually-impaired people go about their daily lives, and machines to read text for you.

In the 21st century, more of this technology than ever is packed into smartphones and tablets, and part of the society's service involves helping people get the most out of their devices.

Sharon Maughan and David Brown are often found at the Partially Sighted Society in Doncaster

Sharon Maughan and David Brown are often found at the Partially Sighted Society in Doncaster

David Brown was at the society on Friday, getting some pointers on what his iPad could do.

He has been coming to the society for about 10 years, mostly for the cups of tea.

Type one diabetes has taken most of the 62-year-old Edlington man's sight. From a distance, he just makes out shadows and shapes.

It hasn't just affected his sight. David has also had a kidney transplant and lost a leg because of the condition.

Anita Plant and Michaela Etherington run the Partially Sighted Society

Anita Plant and Michaela Etherington run the Partially Sighted Society

Sharon Maughan was showing David some tips. She has been coming to the society for almost three years.

Sharon says that the less she knows of her condition, the better.

She has retinitis pigmentosa, which began with night blindness when she was a child.

Tunnel vision is the main symptom now, she said.

Doncaster Free Press reporter Matt McLennan got an insight, albeit temporary, into being visually impaired at the Partially Sighted Society

Doncaster Free Press reporter Matt McLennan got an insight, albeit temporary, into being visually impaired at the Partially Sighted Society

The 46-year-old Clay Lane resident uses a cane to get around.

She said there's a stigma attached to people with her condition in certain situations, like when she whips out her phone on the bus.

Society chief executive, Anita Plant, said education for those who aren't affected by vision impairment is just as important.

"People think 'you don't look blind'," Anita said.

Sharon defies her condition to undertake her favourite pastime: running.

She runs with the Doncaster Athletics Club, and was preparing for the arduous 21 mile Grindleford Gallop in the Peak District.

Sharon said she liked to go jogging as often as possible.

"I run with a guide all the time," she said.

Sharon's attitude is what the society is all about - making it the best you can - Anita said.

"What we're trying to tell people is, that there is life after sight loss," she said.

Michaela Etherington brought her experience in the volunteer sector to the development co-ordinator role at the society.

She is excited for the future of the organisation.

"The word is building," she said.

Macular degeneration, diabetes, stroke and cataracts are the most common conditions people who visit the society have.

There are also many who have uncorrected refraction error caused by having the wrong spectacle subscription.

There are numerous success stories from the society.

People have been pleased to be able to get small parts of their lives back after losing some of their sight.

One woman was able to knit again, and her daughter was in tears at seeing her mother using the needles.

"She said her mum had not knitted for four years," Michaela said.

The society's help stretches across all generations.

The Doncaster outfit has provided large-print stationery to 3,790 schools across the UK, and recently helped some children in Tanzania, east Africa.

There are about 30 visually-impaired students at the DCT Mvumi High School. The society donated discontinued stationery, hand-held magnifiers and old CCTVs to the school.

Michaela enjoyed the feeling of providing support to the kids.

"It's nice to know things we can't use here are helping people somewhere else," she said.

The society has almost 40,000 people in its database. More than 1300 of them are from Doncaster.

Anita said anyone could be supported by the society.

"We have a motto: If we can't help, we know a man who can," she said.

"We will never leave you without something."

This reporter faced some of the challenges a visually-impaired person would contend with during a visit to the society.

I donned a pair of goggles to simulate sight loss, then set about simple tasks like pouring a cup of water and walking down the stairs.

I was thankful my vision loss was only temporary.

The society relies on donations to help the work continue.

Its main fundraiser for the year is approaching, with a ball set down for June 9 at the Earl of Doncaster on Benetthorpe.