Bowled Over by VIP Success!

Southend in Sight is celebrating the success of two of its bowling teams who made it to the National Blind Tenpin Bowling Association Finals held in Wigan on the weekend of 9 & 10 November.  The men’s team came a respectable 8th place but the ladies team beat all the competition to come first. 

The teams qualified for the finals within the top 14 teams in the country with 48 teams competing during the group stages of the competition. Both teams were pleased with their performance at the finals and were proud of what they had achieved, in getting to the finals but also in making the journey from Southend to Wigan. 

Clare Mclewin was the star player.  She was awarded the Salisbury shield for the best average pin score.  In nine years, no-one from the Southend in Sight bowling teams has ever won this.              

The bowling teams, known as the Kursaal Flyers, have been bowling since 2009 with a history of success over the years.  In May 2017, two teams made it through to the Finals, coming 4th and 11th. In 2014, the first team lifted the trophy and in 2013, the Flyers placed 3rd and 5th.

The achievement of the VIP (visually impaired persons) bowlers is all the more remarkable after the closure of the Kursaal Bowling Alley earlier this year necessitating a move to a different venue, CJs in Hockley.  The adjustment to the lanes and lighting as well as the additional travel has not knocked their confidence. They have not let these setbacks dampen their spirits and have come together determined to succeed.  The dedicated support of staff and volunteers is also a factor in the team success at the finals.

Lucy Martin, CEO of Southend in Sight said ‘I’m so proud of both teams, their hard work and dedication has really paid off and it’s an enormous achievement to come in first!

The 30 strong group of visually impaired bowlers, including one wheelchair user, are helped at their Thursday afternoon practice and league sessions by Southend in Sight volunteers who guide the players up to the line and advise them on the pins left to be knocked down. Each partially sighted bowler has a handicap and plays to their own ability.

The bowling team is in desperate need of more volunteers to help – no bowling experience is needed and full guiding training will be given.  If you are free to help the best bowling team in the country on a Thursday afternoon and interested in volunteering, please call 01702 34 21 31.

Walking a half marathon for Southend in Sight

8 staff and volunteers including 3 VIPs walked the 13 mile Colourthon to raise money for Southend in Sight.

It was tough going, particularly at mile 10 when the heavens opened. Our sight impaired walkers coped well with the poor street lighting, slippery and uneven pavements as well as the cobblestones of old Leigh.

We all felt a great sense of achievement as we crossed the finish line and received our medal along with a much needed cup of tea and cookie!

Sky’s the limit for local sight loss charity

Climbing the 02 is the most ambitious challenge that Southend in Sight has ever undertaken, with eight visually impaired people and their guides making the climb.  The weather was shining on us as we gathered at our offices on Hamlet Court Road to take the short walk to Westcliff Station.

If you are visually impaired, negotiating getting on and off a train is a challenge in itself.  Add in a mix of crowds, noise, changing from light to dark and escalators and you can very easily become disorientated.

Form filling at the 02 base camp and then attempting to dress in climbing gear with little or no sight took some time but we got there in the end.

Following instructions on attaching and moving the climbing belt up the rail was difficult but we all got the hang of it and were eager to begin our journey to the top.

The climb up the 02 itself was a breeze.  A beautiful sunny day with amazing views over London made it all worthwhile.  We all felt a huge sense of achievement as we reached the summit and posed for pictures with our guide Charlie.

Many were apprehensive about the climb down and there were some sweaty, anxious brows.  A few were carrying old knee injuries but with some encouragement and a few of us opting to walk backwards so as not to look down, we all made it in one piece back to terra firma.

The climb was a memorable day for all of us – the gentle banter, the arms around each other as people overcame their fears and the sense of camaraderie and purpose as we strived to reach our goal.  Our charity is all about a “can do” attitude and independence, and this was all on show throughout the journey.

Our little stunt has brought us all closer together and helped to raise over £850.

Tea for two, or three, or more for charity volunteers

Local sight loss charity, Southend in Sight celebrated its dedicated volunteers in Volunteers’ Week with an afternoon tea at Essex
Bowling Club.

Lucy Martin, Southend in Sight’s Chief Executive said ‘Without the help and support of our volunteers, we would not be able to provide the level of service that we do to the local community. A huge thank you to all our volunteers – we salute you all!’

Many of the volunteers at Southend in Sight live with sight loss themselves so are very well placed to help others just diagnosed with sight problems and understand the needs of the charity’s members. Volunteers help in the charity’s shop on Hamlet Court Road, support members on trips and offer advice on a range of equipment designed to make life a little simpler for the visually impaired. New volunteers are always welcome.

Changing Chairs

David Hurst has stepped down as the Chairman of Trustees at Southend in Sight after serving the charity for five years and overseeing its modernisation and refurbishment. He passes the baton on to Russell Cable. 

David Hurst began his association with Southend Blind Welfare many years ago when, as a Round Tabler, he helped to collect funds for the charity during its annual Flag Week. In January 2015, he was appointed Chairman of the Board of Trustees and has been forward thinking and actively involved in the development of the charity, making connections with other organisations locally and nationally, who were assisting visually impaired people and new ideas were implemented. Under David’s guidance it was decided that the community arm of Southend Blind Welfare Organisation should become known as Southend in Sight. Refurbishments were made to the layout at the charity’s Hamlet Court Road base making the Resource Centre more accessible for its visually impaired users. The charity’s shop also received a makeover and David’s contacts and network have been vital in helping with these projects.

David said of his time as Chairman “I have learnt a great deal over the last four years and am pleased with the progress we have made: to be chosen as the Mayor’s charity this year and to be nominated for a Queen’s Award for Volunteers for example are tremendous recognisable achievements. These and many more significant gains for the visually impaired in Southend have only been made possible by the selfless dedication of the trustees, our strong, determined and loyal band of volunteers and excellent caring staff.  I am delighted that Russell is taking over; his knowledge and awareness of the needs of the visually impaired will, I have no doubt, be of great benefit to the organisation and those it aims to help”.

Russell Cable, the new Chairman of the Trustees said “I am delighted to take on my new role and would like to add my own thanks to David for his dedication and hard work over the last 5 years. I first became involved with Southend Blind Welfare in 2015 when I started volunteering in the equipment centre. I was welcomed into the charity at a low point in my life but I quickly felt at home and gained a real feeling of worth again.’

Russell, who has visual impairment himself, went on to manage the charity’s database. He continued: “Southend Blind Welfare Organisation has introduced me into a new group of good friends all with varying degrees of sight loss. Meeting others in similar situations to yourself is a real confidence booster. It has made me realise there is no point trying to hide the fact you are visually impaired, something I always tried to cover up from fear of ridicule. I now have the opportunity to flourish in a career I never thought I could have. I owe it all to the good work done at SBWO, and am really proud to be a part of the team here and have the opportunity to help others in a similar situation to my own.  I am looking forward to the challenge!”

Mayor’s Charity 2018/2019

Southend in Sight were delighted to have been selected by Cllr Derek Jarvis as his chosen charity while in office.

After a year of successful fundraising at over 30 events and some generous donations, over £55,000 was raised.

Southend in Sight would like to thank Derek and Val Jarvis, the Mayor’s Charity Committee and everyone who supported the Mayor during his year and helped achieve such a record breaking amount.

Southend in Sight celebrates national award win

Southend in Sight is celebrating winning the Life Changing Impact Award on Wednesday 24 October at The Visionary Conference held at Aston Conference Centre in Birmingham.

The Life Changing Impact Award, sponsored by Thomas Pocklington Trust, is open to Visionary members who can demonstrate the impact they have had on the lives of blind and partially sighted people. Southend in Sight, the Community Services division of Southend Blind Welfare Organisation, won the award because of its commitment to reducing financial concerns in those experiencing sight loss issues.

The charity, based in Hamlet Court Road Westcliff, introduced a volunteer-led service helping people to apply for Attendance Allowance, advising on other benefits and general financial help after finding that many of its service users had no idea that Attendance Allowance was available to them.

Due to their sight loss, individuals were struggling with cleaning, gardening, reading post, getting out and about, shopping, etc. and this regular allowance makes many of these day to day activities easier, meaning people can remain independent. All the attendance allowance applications made with the charity’s help have been successful. Service users can afford to get a taxi, have a regular cleaner, ask people to go out, go shopping and have help in the garden.
Lucy Martin, CEO of the charity said ‘We have helped reduce money anxiety for our elderly service users, who now know they have enough money to live on and they won’t be in debt or lose their property. And most importantly we have helped people take control of their lives. With changes to benefits, we see a group of people living day to day but feeling like their fate is in somebody else hands. With our help and support, blind and partially sighted people have felt like they are back in control of their life and their future.’

David Hurst, Chairman of Trustees for the charity attended the Visionary Conference in Birmingham to ceremony to accept the award and said, ‘I am delighted the volunteers and staff have been recognised nationally for the excellent work they do in Southend.’

Southend in Sight is the Community Services Division of Southend Blind Welfare Organisation. Southend Blind Welfare Organisation is an independent charity providing practical support and advice to those living with visual impairment and blindness in the Southend-on-Sea area. Registered Charity No: 1069765