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RNIB is helping people with sight loss see differently in Newcastle

There are approximately 5,330 people living with sight loss in the Newry, Mourne and Down area. Anyone affected by sight loss, whether themselves or through a friend or family member, are being encouraged to reach out for support available through sight loss charity RNIB (the Royal National Institute of Blind People).

RNIB’s Community Connection team facilitate community-led groups which can provide a safe environment for you to talk openly, connect with others who are blind or partially sighted to share interests, experiences and support each other.

In response to increasing calls for support from the area, a Newcastle Community Connection group was started up at the start of 2022.

Melanie Stewart, who volunteers with the group, and has sight loss herself, said, “We now have about 12 people coming along on a monthly basis, who never knew each other or another visually impaired person before. Our next meet up is due to take place on Thursday 27 October, 11.30am to 1pm. New members, of all ages (18+) are very welcome. We’ve people of all ages from all different walks of life.”

“We meet for coffee, walks, and have occasional speakers on various useful topics. Our next speaker will be David from RNIB’s Products for Life store sharing about useful products to help in everyday life if you have a vision impairment.

It’s the opportunity to talk to others in a similar situation, or perhaps further down the road, that is so beneficial. When my sight deteriorated significantly, I retreated. It was actually through volunteering with RNIB that my confidence started to grow again. I felt useful again and that helped me start to see things differently.

I know it can be daunting taking that first step of getting in touch or getting involve in anything, going along to any events, particularly after the past few years. You don’t have to try everything at once, even if it’s just one thing, one event or meeting and see what happens and how you feel from there.

Sight loss can be very isolating. Getting those tips and that encouragement, we’re able to help each other out and build each other up. It’s something to look forward to, and helps give structure to your week.

I’ve discovered a whole new version of myself I never even knew existed since losing some of my sight and getting involved with RNIB’s local activities, some now being available online or over the phone. My daughters comment that I’m hardly ever in anymore! I just think, I’m in my 50s now and would say to try not to turn down too many opportunities, you might regret it.”

If you’re interested in finding out about opportunities to connect with others in Newcastle and the surrounding areas, or simply to try something new, contact Fiona Joyce, RNIB Community Connection Coordinator on [email protected] or 028 9033 4105.

To find out more about the wide range of support RNIB can offer you or a friend or family member, visit or call the RNIB Helpline on 0303 123 9999.