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Audio stories during Covid-19 from people with sight loss

During Lockdown many visually impaired people became more isolated than ever and everyday challenges to maintain a normal life became significantly harder.

Through a series of telephone conversations, One to One Development Trust recorded, and edited stories of nine people linked to Wakefield District Sight Aid. This poignant and insightful collection of human interest stories shares the resilience of people living with sight loss providing a valuable legacy of life during Covid.

Stories of Insight was funded through Wakefield Culture Creative Challenge 2020 and is part of the Together and Apart Exhibition in June 2021.

Stories of Insight - Exhibition Audio Tour Film

Stories of Insight was one of several projects funded by Wakefield Council Creative Challenge that were brought together to form the Together and Apart exhibition that ran in the Former Market Hall, Wakefield in June 2021. The Stories of Insight participants came together for the first time to celebrate the project and enjoy an audio tour of the exhibition. For many of the participants it was the first time they had done an audio tour of an art exhibition, and it was also a first for Wakefield Council offering it as an option to people with sight loss. The podcasts were played on an audio loop outside the market hall with portraits of the participants and links to how to access the podcasts exhibited in the hall. 

Stories of Insight - Podcasts

Brian crafting a wooden cross in his workshop

Brian Re-Designed His Garden During Covid-19

Brian, 87, and living with macular degeneration, said Covid-19 gave him the opportunity bring his garden back to life. He created new flowerbeds and built a pagoda and although Covid-19 was a nuisance and stopped him going to church, re-focusing had been beneficial. As a young man, Brian served with the RAF in Suez, and returned to work as a lithographer before developing his passion for photography, which is still a major part of his life. Brian has benefited from Wakefield District Sight Aid and other charities and has learned to adapt his skills to cope with sight loss and remain positive.  

Doug with his guide dog Albert

Guide Dog Albert Sees Dougie Through Lockdown

Guide dog, Albert, who arrived just days before the March lockdown, has given owner Dougie a ‘real lift’ and the confidence to get out and about daily and to show off his new dog, which he had waited to get for 2 years! The 82-year-old cricket enthusiast, who lost his sight as an adult due to an eye injury and glaucoma, has been greatly supported by the Wakefield District Sight Aid charity and pre-Covid-19 had enjoyed being able to socialise and even to line dance again - a passion he enjoyed in his youth!


Wakefield District Sight Aid Provides Vital Covid-19 Support

Chief Executive, Hayley Grocock, sings the praises of Wakefield District Sight Aid and its many volunteers who have been looking after members during Covid-19, providing a telephone befriending service and offering support and advice. The charity is also looking to the challenges ahead and the best ways to support their members when restrictions are lifted. Hayley, a Londoner who moved North in 2016, has been struck by the amazing community spirit and sense of ‘place’ in Wakefield and says it is important to her to make a difference locally.

Jim enjoying bird song in his garden

95-year-old Jim Is Looking Forward To Returning To His Painting Class

Wakefield resident Jim, a widower with aged-related macular degeneration, has found new hobbies since he lost his sight, including painting and learning how to use Zoom! Jim has been volunteering with Wakefield District Sight Aid and befriends 7 people - during Covid-19 he has been phoning them once a week to help combat loneliness. Son of a miner, Jim has had a rich and varied career, including working as an engineer with the RAF in Kuala Lumpur. During Covid-19 he has enjoyed sitting in the garden and with fewer cars on the road, has been able to listen to blackbirds talking to each other!

Joyce with guide dog Star

Nemo Offers A Safe Haven For Joyce

Joyce, a lifelong horse rider who became visually impaired at the age of 40, has continued to enjoy riding her horse, Nemo during Covid-19, who offered her a safe haven. During Covid-19 she was only able to visit and ride at weekends - she just loses herself and forgets all her problems. Joyce has been surrounded by animals all her life and is now supported by her guide dog Star, who is her best friend and goes to work with her. Joyce worked full-time through the pandemic for the Pinderfields NHS Trust and really appreciated public support, particularly the ‘Clap for Carers’ which gave her a real boost. She found Covid-19 very challenging, particularly social distancing in supermarkets, but easier once the NHS allocate slots were introduced.

Luke always on the move

Luke Tells Of His Positive Experiences During Covid-19

Student Luke, currently studying for an Open University degree, has been blind all of his life. He has embraced independent travel and during Covid-19 visited his girlfriend, studying in Bournemouth. Lockdown meant they had the opportunity to step away from their busy lives and focus on their studies and have some good quality down time. As a positive role model for young people, Luke volunteers for Wakefield District Sight Aid and also was invited to sit on their Board to share his insights and experiences.

Michelle with her guide dog Hope

Michelle’s Pink Cane Helped Her Visual Impairment

Michelle has Retinitis Pigementosa, which causes night blindness and tunnel vision which worsened when she was a teenager. Her mum persuaded her to use a cane by buying a pink one. She is now discovering ground-breaking technology with the development of a new cane that talks and navigates! Michelle has a guide dog Hope, with whom she shares a birthday! She has been worried that Hope has not been able to get enough exercise during Covid-19 and also concerned that she may be exposed to risk due lack of guide dog social distancing training.

Norman in his avery

Norman’s Bird Aviary Gave Him A Purpose During Lockdown

Norman was born blind with Retinopathy of Prematurity and later in life developed wide angle glaucoma. Sent away at five to a blind school, he went on to be the first blind nuclear physicist at Sellafield. As a teenager, Norman was interest in ornithology, he now has a bird aviary and helps others with sight loss to appreciate birds. During lockdown, looking after his birds was a lifeline, his bird seeds are marked up in print/Braille in case others needed to feed them! Norman is a Board member of Wakefield District Sight Aid and keen to support those with sight loss later in life. 

Richard enjoying fitness and yoga

Sports and Fitness Activities Have Helped Richard during Covid-19

Richard, who has Choroideremia, a rare condition which affects his peripheral vision, retired in his mid 40’s and says that sport is a big part of his life and makes him feel good. Depending on Covid-19 restrictions, he swims, does yoga and spinning classes and goes to the gym and tandem cycles! Covid-19 was challenging, he has appreciated support from charities working to ensure that people with visual impairments are classed as vulnerable and that their needs are taken into consideration, such as priority shopping slots.

Interview on BBC Radio Leeds - 5th June 2021

Creative Director of One to One Development Trust Judi Alston and project participant and Wakefield District Sight Aid Board member Luke Scholey talk about the newly launched Stories of Insight podcast series on BBC Radio Leeds with presenter Nick Ahad. 

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