Thanks to your generosity, the following wonderful things have happened:
Last September, little Jacob and Naomi enrolled at the school for the blind. Both are now fully immersed in school life and despite the limitations of their sight are rising to every challenge, within this secure and supportive learning environment.
At the age of 74, Frank remained determined not to let his loss of sight through Macular Degeneration inhibit his determination to successfully complete his first ‘buddy’ parachute jump – and so was able to tick off yet another personal triumph on his ‘To Do’ List!
Edith’s IT training and carefully supervised rehabilitation programme went so well it enabled her to return to gainful employment a few weeks ago. Now she wakes up each day to a new and exciting challenge – a feeling that had been so absent from her life after she was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa, the eye disease which damaged her retina.
Martin was able to take his first unaided journey to attend a blind training workshop, since when his confidence and self-esteem has soared as he learns the skills he thought he could never have since losing his sight in a road accident.
But let me take a moment to tell you a little more about one person to whom something simply magical happened earlier in the year. After her mother contracted Rubella during pregnancy, Julie was born with almost no sight and very little hearing, compounded by severe learning disabilities.
Now, 50 years on Julie still finds verbal communication very challenging, but she possesses both a warm spirit and a real zest for life.
When Julie’s mother died, her loving family placed her with SeeAbility, one of the specialist residential care units we support. At home, many things had always been done for her and when she first came to SeeAbility she expected to be fed by a carer. Gradually she was taught how to feed herself – something which she mastered well over a period of time. However, the staff felt that there was no reason why Julie could not do other things, like take her empty tea mug back to the kitchen counter. Gradually over a period of time, they worked with her to show her what to do and persevered until she started to do it automatically.
Steady progress is sustained by managing simple things first. Yet many of us forget or take for granted how little things like making a hot drink, can make life even more enjoyable.
Julie enjoys a mug of tea but she couldn’t make one. Now, after consistent and regular support, she is able to make her own brew and when finished she now takes her empty cup back to the sink. Baby steps perhaps; but for many people this simple achievement is the starting point for increased independence and a more fulfilled life.
Julie and the other individuals I have mentioned are just a few of the blind and partially sighted children and adults your donations have directly helped over the last year and who join me in thanking you most sincerely for all your support.
Our aim during the year ahead will be to provide a similar level of opportunities and direct services to the blind. We know that won’t be easy with everyone dealing with their own financial troubles and having to cut back their outgoings at this difficult time.
Yet even with all the problems that surround us, one thing we can forecast with certainty – the number of people diagnosed with partial or complete blindness will not decrease and that for each of them, this shattering news will have a resounding and irreversible impact on their lives.
So, once again, I must ask you to help me, so that together we can help make lives that are forced to change through sight loss slightly more bearable.
In return, all at the Greater London Fund intend to work harder to optimise the help and services provided, which a small gift from you will let us continue to realise.
This gentleman has Glaucoma and Dry Macular Degeneration in both eyes. Earlier in the year he had an operation on his back making it difficult to walk.
“His consultant had advised him that there was nothing further that could be done for him and he was discharged. Thankfully the Consultant did have the insight to ensure I spent time with him before allowing him to go.
“When I introduced myself and we closed the door to my room, he burst into tears, telling me he wanted to avoid going to live in residential care. But he was finding it very hard as he lived alone.”
Imagine the shock of being told that you are losing your sight. Imagine being told that there was nothing more that doctors or surgery could do to save your vision. Where would you go? Who would you tell first?
The above quote is from a conversation I had with Alyson Bunn, an Eye Clinic Liaison Officer that you have helped us to finance, who works in four hospitals across Surrey.
Did you know that it is likely that someone with a visual impairment lives within a five minute walk of your home?
Were you also aware just how cut off blind and partially sighted people feel from the people and things around them?
So when I share Marjorie’s story, I would like you to think about someone who needs your help close to your home. As you think of them, I would like to ask you to make a donation to buy them lunch.
This might not sound like much, yet it can make such a huge difference. It offers an opportunity for important social contact, advice and friendship. Often it is one of the few chances to get out of the house and socialise with others who have also lost their sight.