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Transcript of TORCH NEWS - Homepage - Torch News 2013 Winter.pdf · PDF fileTORCH NEWS WINTER 2013...


    Berni from Camberley, Surrey, lost her teaching job last year due to sight loss resulting from diabetes. I could no longer see the children from a distance, or recognise their faces in the playground, she says. I couldnt identify colours when I was mixing paint I couldnt tell if it was red or brown I couldnt identify their parents. It came to a point where it was no longer feasible.

    Her sadness, after 20 years in the profession, was intense. It was a job that I loved getting up for every morning.

    Bernis two teenagers have also found it difficult. I can no longer drive, so for them thats difficult as there are places they can no longer go to. We have to get buses, including to church on Sunday. Lots of people have offered us lifts but I want to be independent.

    Living with uncertaintyThe prognosis for Berni is uncertain. Ive had 19 injections in my left eye and seven in my right. Unfortunately my left eye isnt responding to treatment. My right eye carries me an awful lot now, but with that I have contrast issues.

    She feels her Christian faith has been vital. I got down on my knees and said, God, this is absolutely not what I envisaged for my life. But I felt God said to me, Berni, this is absolutely what I envisaged. In other words, Dont worry. Your life is in my hands. I really felt at peace.

    continued on page 2

    Enabling people with sight loss to discover Christian faith and lead fulfilling Christian livesChristian activities and resources for blind and partially sighted people worldwide

    Bernis dream job lost along with her sightEvery day more than 100 people across Britain learn that they are losing their sight. This experience often likened to bereavement can be devastating.

  • Berni has been helped by going on a Torch Moving Forward break designed specifically for people new to sight loss. It was fantastic, she says. So informative. The people there were so friendly. It gave me hope. It was very confidence-building.

    Gill and Chriss storyGill began to lose her sight two years ago after an operation to remove a brain tumour. Chris, her husband of 43 years, describes it as a total upset of their life, which hes still struggling to come to terms with.

    Marriage is a union and when one of the partners is the carer and the other is the cared-for, it completely changes the dynamic within the household. Its like living with a different person, he says, admitting honestly that he hasnt always coped well.

    Chris is quite an impatient person, explains Gill, and I think he blames me to a certain extent for having to give up a lot of his hobbies. Ive felt at times that Im a bit of a hindrance to him.

    Sight loss isnt the first major challenge life has thrown at Chris and Gill. Fourteen years ago they lost their only son to cancer, aged just 23. Then, they recall, they couldnt have managed the absolute pits of depression without each others support. And they know itll be mutual support that gets them through this new challenge.

    Fresh direction from Moving ForwardGill and Chris also found Moving Forward has given them fresh direction.

    Moving Forward has taught me to step back and give Gill the time to try things herself, said Chris. Both agreed that it was a tremendous help to spend time with others going through sight loss. They now feel able to set in place a series of small achievable goals that will improve their lives.

    I believe that God is with us in our journey, says Chris. Listening is the difficult thing. As human beings, we have this fixed idea of where we want to go and what we want to do and so often thats not what Gods got in line for us.

    Rachel Dalby interviews Gill and Chris at Moving Forward for Reflections radio

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    TORCH NEWS is also available in audio CD, braille, email and large print (17-, 20-, 25- and 30-point) and can be viewed on the Torch website.

    Chair: Marilyn Baker Chief Executive: Dr Gordon Temple

    Council of Reference members: Rt Revd Richard Atkinson OBE; Revd Dr Steve Brady; Revd Dr David Coffey OBE; Revd Malcolm Duncan; Jonathan Lamb; Revd Roy Searle; Dr Elaine Storkey; Revd Dr Derek Tidball.

    The Torch Trust for the Blind: a charity registered in England and Wales, no. 1095904; a company limited by guarantee, no. 4616526

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    The news can be like a death sentence. Hopes and dreams destroyed like breakers smashing in and overwhelming you. Mark

    It was incredibly frustrating not being able to read or drive... totally emasculating not to be able to use a microwave or kettle for myself. Trevor

    Sight loss affects everything not being able to see faces when watching TV, not being able to see whats on the shelves at the supermarket Christine

    I put on a brave face but I wasnt coping. I thought I was a failure and that, should I go completely blind, life as I knew it would be pretty much over. Steve

    First responses to sight loss

    Im afraid youre losing your sight a diagnosis that not only disrupts the everyday but can send out urgent ripples of distress impacting the whole of life career, wellbeing, independence, security, family. This issue of TORCH NEWS brings you stories behind the experience of sight loss and describes how Torch is responding to those needs.

    continued from front page

    Torchs Moving Forward breaks are run with a clear Christian ethos but open to all. They provide an opportunity for people to share their experiences as well as getting practical advice about everyday living. There are sessions on handling money and claiming benefits, discovering kitchen gadgets, accessing computers.

    Most of these three-day all-inclusive breaks are based at the Torch Holiday & Retreat Centre in West Sussex. But during the anticipated renovation of the centre in early 2014, Moving Forward breaks will be held in Swansea in South Wales, Stirling in Scotland and Littlehampton, Sussex. If you would like details, phone 01273 832282, visit the website or email n


  • With the pilot scheme for Torchs new befriending project well under way in Northern Ireland, plans are developing for rolling it out elsewhere around the UK in 2014.

    Journeying With, as the scheme is called, brings trained local Christian volunteers alongside people newly diagnosed with sight loss. Learning to cope with the world of eye clinics and perhaps the social care system can be overwhelming. Befrienders give the valuable gift of time helping clients adjust to new circumstances and connect with the support frameworks and relationships they need to enable them to lead fulfilling lives.

    In Northern Ireland, four people have completed the first training course and are now working with their own clients under the leadership of Torchs Northern Ireland Regional Networker Leonard Campbell. Another group of befrienders, possibly in the Belfast area, will be recruited soon for training. Recruitment is under way for area co-ordinators to launch Journeying With with one or two starting in the New Year and eventually a team of six taking responsibility around the UK.

    Feedback from the first volunteers has been very positive, says Debra Chand, Torchs Chief Presence Officer, responsible for developing initiatives which focus on all-important face-to-face interaction supporting people with sight loss.

    Short but perfectly formed!It may be short just three to four minutes but a lot of thought, prayer and energy goes into producing the Torch weekly audio thought for the day called Journey. As far as possible, Journey is written by people with sight loss or those who live or work with them. Editor Lin Ball takes the writing and produces a short script for anything between three and six different voices. Once every six weeks or so Lin gathers staff or volunteers to squeeze into the recording studio at Torch House to bring the scripts to life. Journey, which encourages people to think about life from a gently Christian perspective, is offered free to talking newspapers and blind clubs, made available from the downloads page of the Torch website. If youd like to have a go at writing for Journey, do contact us. n

    Offering the gift of time

    Journeying With volunteers Naomi and Maureen learn about the memory stick player

    Lin and Rachel at BAFTA

    A pat on the back for Reflections

    People appreciate the professional training theyve received. They particularly value the listening skills training. Several of them are early-retireds with professional backgrounds and they comment that they find Journeying With a very meaningful and rewarding way to use their life experience.

    The new Journeying With co-ordinators will recruit volunteers and make links with relevant eye health professionals who can make referrals, says Debra. They will also have the task of getting churches on board with the scheme. Our vision is for the scheme to work within the pastoral care programme of a church or local group of churches. We are seeking Gods provision, firstly for the right people to fill the new posts, and also for the additional income to enable us to support this new expenditure commitment. n

    Well, it was rather a surreal evening mixing with the big names in religious broadcasting at BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) in Piccadilly, Lo