We asked lots of local charities and community groups if they wanted to give you lovely readers an insight into how their year has been. Here’s what MySight York had to say.
Who could have foreseen what a rollercoaster of a year 2020 was going to be? As an organisation, Covid-19 has tested MySight York’s resilience, creativity and ability to adapt (again and again) to fast-changing circumstances.
The two lockdowns saw our offices closed to visitors and most of our staff working from home to support York’s visually impaired residents on the telephone, online and on their doorsteps. At the same time, we maintained a constant presence at York Hospital, supporting people emotionally and practically at their point of need.
Our Equipment & Information Centre quickly morphed into the Home Connections service, which to date has enabled 137 people to try out over 300 pieces of specialist equipment, delivered to their door by a dedicated team of volunteers. Thank you specifically to Peter, David, Stephen and Hannah, we simply could not have done this without you.
Many of our members rely on weekly visits from our Home Visiting volunteers. When these became impossible, our Keeping in Touch befriending service was born. This has paired around 100 local people living with sight loss with a friendly volunteer for a regular chat throughout lockdown.
We know how important this has been for our clients, for many of whom lockdown and social isolation have been particularly hard:
It’s been a lifeline – it’s been a difficult time. I think I might have disappeared into a black hole if I hadn’t been able to keep in touch with people.
Many of our social groups have also continued to meet, online or by telephone, to share ideas, maintain friendships and generally support one another. A recent event saw people from all over the city come together online as part of York Disability week to watch expert cook Jackie Watson discuss her experience of cooking with sight loss – mouth watering stuff.
Once again, we are indebted to our amazing volunteers who have supported these groups, coping with technological hitches, telephone drop-outs and all kinds of unexpected demands with good grace and great humour!
Without them there would be a lot of lost and lonely people.
We have also maintained an active programme of community engagement – whether that’s collaborating with City of York Council on their plans for the city’s footstreets, championing the needs of visually impaired people in relation to cycles and e-scooters, or contributing to York’s Street Charter.
We are now delighted to be able to re-open our doors to visitors – by appointment only – with all the risk assessment, protective equipment and enhanced cleaning procedures this entails.
Who knew, as we started 2020, that these things would become so ‘normal’ a part of our working lives?
Throughout this extraordinary year, MySight York has stuck to our core mission of supporting blind and partially sighted people in York to ‘live well with sight loss’. Our latest project, a large-scale survey, aims to involve our entire membership in steering the future direction of the charity. We hope that this will enable the voices of visually impaired people in the city to be truly heard and represented as we plan for 2021 and beyond.
MySight York has given me confidence. I thought I was on my own. Now I know that someone understands.
If you, or someone you know, would like to get involved in any way – to talk through your sight loss, to join a group or an activity, or to offer your time, skills or fundraising efforts – please don’t hesitate.
Call us on 01904 636 269, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.