Halifax Society for the Blind Newsletter – March/April

This is the regular newsletter from the Halifax Society for the Blind. Find out more about them and sign up to the newsletter and many of their activities via their website.


Welcome to the March edition of the Halifax Society for the Blind Activities Update!  This month, the focus is on keeping our minds and bodies active, not always an easy task during a lockdown, but hopefully there are some ideas here that will give you some inspiration.

Halifax Society for the Blind Activities

Coming Soon – Walking Group

HSB are planning to start a walking group now that lockdown restrictions are beginning to ease again.  Please let us know if you are interested in joining this group, and if so, what sort of walks you would like to do (how long? Which locations?) and whether you would need support from a guide while walking.  This would be of great help in our planning of the sessions.

Social Room session – ‘Out and about’ – April 7th at 11am

This phone-based session will give people a chance to chat and share any concerns or ideas they may have about getting out and about as lockdown eases.  Angie & Jane, our Sight Support Advisors, will be attending the session to answer questions and share information.  If you would like to join the call, even if you have not accessed the Social Room service before, please do phone the office or phone Lucy on 07458 302903 to get signed up.

Coming soon – Charles Bonnet Syndrome support group

HSB are in the process of setting up a support group for people living with Charles Bonnet Syndrome (CBS), a common condition experienced by people who are losing, or have lost, their sight. CBS causes people to see things which are not really there (visual hallucinations).  The support group will be monthly and phone-based to start with.  If you are interested in joining the group when it starts up, please contact the HSB office.

The Social Room

This is a telephone-based service run by HSB, where local people with sight loss can socialise, support each other and take part in various activities.  New group members are welcome, just phone Lucy on 07458 302903 to sign up.  Once you’re signed up, at the time of your group, simply phone 0203 481 5629 and enter the room number 781285 when prompted. Or, in the case of the Zoom group, we will share a joining link with you, or a phone number if you would rather dial in.

We can provide joining instructions in an accessible format to suit you.  In some instances, we may be able to dial you in, so all you need to do is pick up the phone when it rings at the session starting time.

We’re always open to your ideas and suggestions for new groups and activities, so let us know if there is something you would like to see us doing, and we’ll work together to help make it happen.  The current group timetable is as follows:-

Tuesday

  • Zoom Group (11am)  Join us on Zoom for different activities each week, including guest speakers, quizzes, information, chat and workshop sessions
  • Coffee Shop (1pm)    Come along for a sociable chat – bring your own brew! We usually chat for about an hour, but you are welcome to drop in and out when you like

Wednesday

  • Fun and Games (1pm)   Quizzes and games for a brain workout – it’s just for fun though, you don’t have to be an egghead!
  • Well-being Wise (2.30pm)   Supporting each other to look after our mental and physical wellbeing, through group chat and regular guest speakers

Thursday

  • Fun and Games (11.30am)   Quizzes and games for a brain workout (a repeat of Wednesday’s session)

Friday

  • Chairobics (10am)  A 25 minute gentle exercise session, done while seated. Suitable for all ages and abilities
  • Literature Live! (1.30pm)   Sharing stories, poems, jokes and articles on different themes each week.  Come along and just listen in, or bring something to share with the group, it’s your choice!

Focus on ‘Chairobics’

The ‘Chairobics’ session is a gentle, chair-based workout covering exercises for every area of your body. Even a simple workout like this can help you get stronger and improve your flexibility and fitness, so why not give it a try?

If you are not able to attend our session, there are lots of similar workouts available free on Youtube.  Here are a few examples:-

Other activities

Local talking newspaper and magazine services

The Calderdale Talking Newspaper Association
They record a weekly newspaper covering mainly local stories taken from the Halifax Courier, Brighouse Echo, Hebden Bridge Times (incorporating the Todmorden News) and the Yorkshire Post. It also includes obituaries local events, and a short sports section.  A monthly magazine is also recorded where feature articles of local and general interest are read, together with occasional stories, poems and interviews (including an annual one with the Mayor of Calderdale).

The recordings on USB sticks are available free to all blind and visually impaired residents in Calderdale.  They are sent out post free in a plastic wallet which the recipient then reuses to return the stick. The Association will provide on loan the necessary equipment to listen to the sticks, or these can be played on the listener’s own computer or suitable audio book player.  If you would like to receive the recordings, just let Halifax Society for the Blind know.

The Talking Newspaper for Todmorden
This provides a monthly recording which  includes articles from the Todmorden News in the preceding weeks, together with a magazine section consisting of interviews with interesting local people, a quiz, poetry readings and various other items of local interest. The final section of each edition is a selection of briefings giving information about products, services or welfare issues of particular relevance to blind and partially sighted people.

You can listen to the recording online via the tntod.org.uk website.  Alternatively, the talking newspaper can be posted to you on a memory stick.  A free player can be provided to you on loan, or you can use your own equipment to listen.  To contact the Talking Newspaper to request any of these services, fill in the form on their contact page here or contact Angela Wilde on 07934 429313.

Every Mind Matters – Mental Health resource hub
The challenges brought by COVID-19 continue to affect us all and many people are reporting that their mental health is suffering as a result. The Every Mind Matters website is a great resource provided by Public Health England which can help you find strategies and support to improve your mental and physical health. The site aims to make it easier for everyone to look after their own wellbeing and improve their mental health, by providing a digital hub full of advice, tips and resources and a new online tool to help you create your own mental health action plan.  It also includes a page of links to a selection of free apps which can support you to improve your mental and physical health.  Click here to visit the site.

Let’s get walking!
Walking is free, flexible and fun, and proven to have a huge impact on your wellbeing. Living Streets have put together 20 tips to help you fit 20 minutes of walking into your day.  Click here to view the tips.

Audio description on Netflix
The Netflix streaming service has over 10,000 hours of audio described programmes available in over 30 different languages. You can access the gallery here that allows you to search for something that interests you. You can search by a variety of genres including TV series, films, documentaries, dramas, music and comedy, so there’s plenty to keep your mind active!

Netflix can be watched online via their website, or on your smart TV, smartphone or tablet.  Once you have found a programme of interest, you can switch on audio description by playing the programme, then selecting ‘Audio & Subtitles’.  Audio description can then be selected from the list of languages.  Once you have selected audio description, it will stay activated for future programmes that you access.

(Netflix is a subscription service with prices starting at £5.99 per month)

Activities for children and young people

British Blind Sport have a Youtube channel which includes lots of sports-based activities, many of which can be done indoors.  Their ‘Sports Skills series’ has activities based on cricket, rugby, tennis and hockey.  Click here to visit the channel.

The ‘Mister Teach’ Youtube channel has hundreds of educational and fun videos to keep your primary-age child’s mind active.  Many of the games are audio-based, so ideal for VI children.  Click here to visit the channel.

The ‘First Steps’ scheme from British Blind Sport aims to help children with sight loss get active with a FREE sport and fitness pack delivered to their door.  Designed for children aged 3 to 11 years old, the pack includes:

  • Audible ball: A bright and bouncy ball with ball-bearings inside to allow the child to hear the ball.
  • Activity booklet: Simple and enjoyable games that encourage the entire family to play together.
  • Progress poster: Tracking the child’s daily achievements to encourage habitual activity with a fun sticker chart.

In addition to receiving the First Steps Pack, families will receive ongoing support and will be invited to Family Days organised by BBS which not only bring young people together but also introduce them to new activities and inclusive clubs in their local community.

Click here to find out more and to register for the scheme.