Sight Advice South Lakes is a charity which supports people with sight issues. They are currently working with Community Circles to develop Circles for their members.

Here they share the story of Celia, who lost her sight overnight. She is also living with severe arthritis. She lives with her husband, who works in a remote South Lakeland village. The village has no public transport links and Celia now relies on her husband and Rural Wheels, when available, for transportation. Her husband now does all the housework and cooking.

Celia’s sudden loss of sight had a huge impact on her life & during a home visit, she expressed frustration that she was captive in her own home and was very tearful. She told us she felt very isolated and unable to reach out to previous friends in the village because they didn’t understand her eye condition. Although available, Celia’s attempts to use Rural Wheels have been unsuccessful as they could only take her to the nearest large village which is also remote and does not offer activities that interest her.

Celia told us she wanted to get out of the house when her husband is working and was willing to try anything. We discussed her past interests, which included sports, especially watersports as Celia used to windsurf before she lost her sight. We contacted a group of volunteers who deliver sailing for people with disabilities and arranged for Celia to join them for a trial session, with a volunteer driver taking her to and from the activity.

Since joining the sailing group, she expresses her delight at new hobbies and friends. The volunteer group leaders have said that she is “a lively and popular member of the sailing group and has even attended our annual overnight sail and camp event”.

We continue to explore with Celia other opportunities to engage with her local community.  Building on her interest in physical activity, we matched her with a local disability cycling group where she uses a trike and follows a volunteer supporter on a bike in front of her for guidance. Several of the friends Celia has made during her sailing sessions are now also part of the group and she says she is “overjoyed to have her friends”.

As Celia’s Circle of Support continues to develop, volunteers are discussing the feasibility of loaning a tandem from Charlotte’s Tandems, which would enable her to continue enjoying her new hobby with her family.  A further element to Celia’s circle is the potential for her to undertake a parachute jump for our charity with the support of a volunteer community supporter.

As part of her circle, Celia has also made contact with an alternative community transport organisation able to take her to Kendal. They enabled her to attend a Sight Loss Support course.  She has also attended a volunteer event to match herself with a volunteer to accompany her for a regular ‘mooch around the shops’.  This is a future goal that we aim to enable Celia to achieve as part of her Circle of Support.