Halifax Society For The Blind: Services Update & Newsletter

Here’s the latest edition of Look Out!, the newsletter of the Halifax Society for the Blind with an intro from Pete Hoey, their chief officer:

With a bit of effort from our entire team, we have launched a completely phone-based service, which will be in operation for the duration of shutdown, and for the extended period of social isolation faced by many of our members. These are open to all local people with sight loss, and have been deliberately designed to facilitate low threshold phone services, that do not rely on the usual routines associated with remote platforms. All recipients need do is register by calling us, and wait for the call when a session is due. When it comes through, all they do is press the # button, and they join the group.

As well as this, there are other services that will also vitally support people with sight loss safely through this crisis. More frequent updates will be available on our Facebook page.

If you have any questions or queries, please call 01422 352383, or email info@halifaxblindsociety.org.uk

Look Out!

Coronavirus Bulletin 1 – 20th April 2020
Its now five weeks since we moved to a phone-based service, and four weeks since lockdown. Our hardworking team has called all members, providing information and support to many of you. We have set up new services like Friends on the Phone befriending service, which is staffed by HSB’s team of volunteers, and some from Calderdale Talking News also taking part. Lucy Armour, our Activities Coordinator has done a great job setting up and testing for our new Social Room phone groups for to suit all varieties of interest. Just call our office to access any of these.

With COVID19 being more common locally, it is more important than ever to stay in, and keep well. Our new services are here to help with this. This bulletin tells you about them. Whilst operating as a skeleton team, we are available to call between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday on 01422 352383, and you can also email us on info@halifaxblindsociety.org.uk

Our new services include:-
•A new, wide-ranging, and easy to access phone-based Social Room
•Friends on the Phone – a new phone-based service
•Sight aids or equipment to your home (we pay up front for smaller items)
•Setting people up talking book services and talking newspapers
•Coordinating with other services if you are in a crisis
•Information and support service about your eye condition, sources of specialist support, transport services to your GP or critical eye appointments, online activities for adults and young people (eg audio exercises, chat, quizzes), and other useful information (eg special supermarket sessions for those with disabilities)

The Social Room – New Phone-based Groups and Sessions
Once you’ve registered, your phone will ring at the start time. Just press the hash key (#), just below number 9 on your phone’s keypad. If you feel confident, you can also join the Social Room by calling 020 3481 5629, and then enter 781285 when prompted. Lucy can be reached 07458 303242, or  email lucy.armour@halifaxblindsociety.org.uk

The Social Room – Timetable (starting 5th May 2020)

  • Tuesday
    Tech & Chat (11am) Special guests describe and demonstrate tech items
    Coffee Shop (1:00pm) Join us for a sociable chat – bring your own brew!
    Parent Carer Zoom Chat (8:00pm) Support & information sharing session
  • Wednesday
    Fun and Games (1:00pm) Quizzes, fun, and games for a brain workout!
    Wellbeing Wise (2:30pm) Explores looking after ourselves while isolated
  • Thursday
    Good News Club (10.00am) Space to listen to and share good news stories about how people are helping themselves and others through these tough times
    Fun and Games (11:30am) Quizzes, fun, and games for a brain workout!
    Teens Group (2:00pm)  Zoom chat for teens
  • Friday
    Chairobics (10.00am) A 15-20 minute gentle exercise session, done while seated.  Suitable for all ages and abilities.
    Literature Live! (1:30pm) Short stories, poems, anecdotes, jokes – listen in or join in and share your own, it’s up to you!

Other useful Services and Phone Numbers:-
•If you have appointments for injections for wet macular degeneration or central retinal vein occlusion, or, if you only have one functioning eye, your eye appointments are critical. If you need transport for these, call 0300 330 2000
•Phone-based shopping through Calderdale Community Transport – 0300 0200215, or email sandra.makin@ctcalderdale.co.uk
•Calderdale Council Urgent Needs phone line 01422 392890
•RNIB Helpline 0303 123 9999, for counselling & eye health information
•Register as a vulnerable customer with your supermarket’s online delivery service and get priority delivery slots (eg Tesco 0800 917 7359)

Staying Safe and Well
HSB recommends that in addition to Government advice you should:-
•Understand that social distancing in shops and even on pavements has become extremely difficult for people with sight loss
•Refocus your independence on control of things that support your own health – rather than doing everything yourself
•Ask for help – there are plenty of people willing to help, and everybody is needing support of one type or another
•Follow WY Metro advice to concessionary passholders, and consider other ways they can access shops and services
•Maintain your own health, by using your GP if you need to, attending critical eye appointments, and taking regular exercise
•If you go out, take something that shows others that you have sight loss (eg take a symbol or long cane, or your guide dog)
•Be wary of scams. Trust only the phone numbers you have from your bank, or official bodies like the Council, DWP, or HMRC. Very few made to people actually require an immediate response. If unsure, hang up.

Communication is more vital than ever
• If you’ve not been called recently by us, we don’t have you up to date phone number. Please tell us your new phone number.
•Use our new Friend on the Phone, or phone-based Social Room services. Its good to talk, and we all learn useful tips from each other.
•Email is now a vital way of getting important information in the present time. Please ask a friend or family member to call us with their email address, so they can read crucial information to you.
•Call us to discuss how you can independently read correspondence during these times of isolation. There are many types of equipment and techniques that can help you with this.

We do not know how long lockdown will continue, and are planning for these services to continue until after any longer period of social distancing and isolation has completed. Indeed, as these services are new, and open to any member to access, they may be adopted as routine way for people with sight loss to support one another over the long term.
In the meantime, HSB has never had to issue a more important newsletter message. Please use the new services to full effect, and the others mentioned in this edition of Look Out! They have been put together to help keep you safe. If you need a different form of help, please call our office and we will do our best. As one of Calderdale’s oldest independent charities, we are here for the welfare of local people with sight loss. Genuinely, we hope to hear from you soon, and will keep you informed.
Stay Safe,

Pete Hoey  Sue Mort
Chief Officer  Chair of Trustees at HSB

Halifax Society for the Blind, 36 Clare Road, Halifax, HX1 2HX, charity registration number 2242