Developing your Connect community

Post date: 
Wednesday, 12 July 2017
Photo of Sarah with her Guide Dog

Sarah Leadbetter, who is working to connect blind and partially sighted people locally, gives us a snap-shot of her activities to inspire you to get involved in your own community.

Hi, my name is Sarah Leadbetter and I'm a Community Connector for the East Midlands. I'm also a Campaigner and help change things for the better locally in Leicestershire and on a national level. I want to give you a two-week snap-shot of what I get up to and show other people with sight loss that you can do similar things in your own community.

Week one

On Monday, I went to my local technology group that I set up with my friend. We wanted to support and help people from within the community at all different levels and abilities to use smartphones and tablets so they can communicate with friends and family. 
On Tuesday, I spent the day at the training school for guide dogs in Leamington Spa. I attended a speaker course to help me find ways to tell my story better. I learnt how to “sell” myself and how to communicate in a more open and friendly way. It was good to meet other people that are puppy walkers as well, who help take them to places like restaurants and buses to lay the foundations for training to be a guide dog.
On Thursday, I visited a local university where we took a few guide dogs and puppies for the students to meet. We were able to tell them a bit about what training the dogs and puppies involves and how Kiki, my guide dog, helps me in everyday life. 

Week two

The following Monday, I went to a meeting at RNIB College Loughborough, to discuss and plan their upcoming event. I helped to organise the agenda and decide how we could get people involved and share their experiences throughout the day. We also met other members of staff from Campaigns, Fundraising and Networking. 
On Thursday, I went to my local book group, which I run with the help of a volunteer. Originally, this was a book group discussing the different types of authors and books that we like to listen to. But as time has gone on, with fewer and fewer social groups in our local community, we decided to widen what the group does and we now go on different types of trips, too.
On Saturday, I attended the local Blind Society forum. We discuss where we would like the charity to go in the next few months and in the next year, and how they can better help people with sight loss in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland. 
I hope this helps you to think about taking part in groups, activities and other things that are going on in the area where you live. Alternatively, you could get involved in your Connect community team or speak to local groups about your experiences. All I can say is to give something new a try.

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