I would like to introduce you to some remarkable people, having a go (yesterday) at something many of you ‘foodies’ reading this might do from time to time – making bread. Imagine doing that if you could not see, or had one or more additional severe ‘disabilities’ – physical or mental. Many of the people here, if they can speak but several of them cannot, will say “I’m not disabled, I just cannot see”. Their enthusiasm, zest for life and willingness to tackle anything, is an inspiration to me. As usual, just click on the first picture to see a slide show with a description of each picture.
Susan, a tenant in one of the Wilberforce houses in Tadcaster, supported by two Wilberforce support staff, makes a start but would rather be eating the result
Keiran, a Wilberforce York house tenant, enjoys cooking despite being completely without sight, has written a cookery book, is a keen football fan, holidays abroad (most recently in Malta) and helps assess social work students at the University
Marie is fascinated by geography and has a collection of globes in her room in a York Wilberforce house. She loves to correspond with pen-pals, helped by a volunteer to write and read as she cannot see.
Pauline, a York Wilberforce tenant, does not let her severe disabilities, including needing a wheelchair, stop her taking part in a variety of activities. She likes to cook and has recently been pickling onions, which she then sells.
June, who cannot see at all, enjoys working on a computer. As she needs the computer to speak the keys as she types them she’s trying to save money for the necessary software for her old PC; I tell her she needs a Mac with its built-in accessibility, but that’s a bit pricey for her
Gordon, blinded and additionally severely disabled as the result of an accident, is game for anything. He enjoys a Newcastle Brown in the pub; keen to take part in the bread-making (he makes a mean chocolate muffin at home), I’ve been more often with him to something more ‘adventurous’, like horse-riding or on the climbing wall at a local leisure centre.
Lesley, a keen gardener at the Wilberforce York house where she is a tenant, took a gardening course at the nearby renowned Askham Bryan College and uses her own home-grown vegetables to make pies. She also does a stint, one day a week, as a volunteer in a local charity shop.
Just out of the oven, the bread rolls are too hot for Susan to eat yet. The one at the back, with Marmite and a cheese topping, is for me!
I have mentioned that I work for a small charity in York (York, UK that is). As York’s oldest charity, the Wilberforce Trust has been supporting people with sight loss in and around York since 1833 (the year William Wilberforce’s died); it was set up – originally as the Yorkshire School for the Blind – in his memory that year.
Now, with a number of houses offering supported accommodation and a variety of services to the larger community, it specialises in supporting people with sight loss who have additional severe disabilities, including learning disabilities.
The introduction to bread-making is one of a number of activities – a social club/games night, art activities, using computers and internet for people with sight loss, cooking, flower arranging, personal safety courses, and more – which take place in the ‘Living & Learning Zone’, a specialised community centre in the Wilberforce head office in Huntington, York, where I work a couple of days a week
Not all the participants in this session are shown; those who are know me very well so gladly allow me to take their picture; some who have newly joined Wilberforce activities did not yet want their photo taken.
I’d add that the supporters pictured here, both Wilberforce staff and volunteers, are remarkable people too.