New peer support group for people with visual impairments

Blind and vision impaired people living in the Nottingham area now have a new way to get the help and support needed to enable them to begin to come to terms with a life-changing diagnosis of sight loss, thanks to a new peer support group due to be launched this week by local charity, My Sight Nottinghamshire.

The group will meet on Thursday evenings between 5:30pm-7:30pm in Nottingham starting on 19 January for a six week programme.

Coming together for mutual support

Facilitated by an experienced chair, with counselling experience who is also and who knows from first-hand experience what it’s like to receive a diagnosis of sight loss, the new peer support group will provide people with the opportunity to come together for mutual support, to explore their feelings, discuss their concerns and fears and learn coping strategies so that they can begin to come to terms with what has happened to them and begin to re-build their lives.

In addition to the opportunity to talk to counsellors and to others in a similar situation, various speakers have been invited to the group from organisations across the city to offer advice and support. My Sight Notts has also arranged for a number of local inspirational visually impaired people who have survived dark times themselves and who are now leading fulfilled and independent lives to take part in group sessions and to talk about their experiences.

Carl's story

“Losing my eye sight was a very frightening experience, I felt really alone and didn’t know who to turn to for help,” explained Carl Veal from Mapperley. Carl was diagnosed with the degenerative eye condition, Retinitis Pigmentosa in his late twenties. Since the diagnosis his life has changed dramatically and he retired from his post as Head of Procurement after 25 years in the public and private sectors.

Carl’s eye sight continues to deteriorate and while undertaking counselling at My Sight Notts, he decided to take a course in Counselling and Psychotherapy himself with a special interest in offering emotion support to people with sensory deprivation.

“It has taken me a very long time to come to terms with my degenerating eye condition and my future prognosis still remains uncertain, which is why I really want to reach out to others, offering support to people going through a similar traumatic experience as myself.

“Thanks to the counselling I received at My Sight Notts, I am now fully determined to live life to the full. I’m developing a new career in counselling and I have a wonderful guide dog named Huxley who helped improve my confidence and enabled me to get out independently again. I’ve just come back from a holiday to Thailand and I’m optimistic about what the future holds.
“If the new Peer Support Group offered by My Sight Notts helps others to come to terms with what has happened to them and start to rebuild their lives, than I will feel I have contributed to something really worthwhile.”

How to make a referral for peer support

Referrals for the new My Sight Notts Self Help Group can be made by the visually impaired people themselves, their families or professionals working with them. To refer someone, please call Martha Highton at My Sight Notts on 0115 9706 806 or email: marthah@mysightnotts.org.uk

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