Finding solace in a supportive place

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Blind and Low Vision New Zealand, formerly known as Blind Foundation, members Iona Sutton (left) and Liz Anstice, both of Invercargill. Photo: Abbey Palmer

WHEN Helen White started to lose her sight, she was in denial.

“I didn’t want to believe it for a long time, I’d always worked with my hands, crocheting and knitting.”

Diagnosed with the genetic condition choroideremia, Mrs White began to lose her vision about six years ago.

“Usually men get it and women are the carrier. Nobody in my immediate family had it as far as I know,” she said.

Since becoming a member of Blind and Low Vision New Zealand in Invercargill, formerly known as the Blind Foundation, she found solace in knowing she had people to talk to who were going through the same thing.

“It’s a learning curve, but when you meet nice people it encourages you to get out and about.”

Now part of the craft group at Blind and Low Vision New Zealand, she had since re-learnt how to knit, she said.

“I used to knit and crochet all my life but you’re used to looking at it, now with the knitting I’ll cast on and count the number of rows every so often to make sure I haven’t put extra on.”

She was also a member of the Latte Ladies, a coffee group arranged through the organisation.

With Blind Week fast approaching, street collectors will be out on Friday, October 18, and Saturday, October 19, in Invercargill.

Member Liz Anstice said volunteers would be positioned at all major supermarkets in Invercargill, the Warehouse on Leven St, and Mitre 10 MEGA on Elles Rd.

“All the money goes towards giving mobility instructions to members, it helps us with teaching people how to use technology and transportation.”

She said it was important for people to donate because it supported Blind and Low Vision New Zealand to teach their staff “the safe way and the right way” to support their members.

White Cane Safety Day would also be recognised on Tuesday, October 15.

“If we didn’t have our white canes we would be stuck. We’re free when we can use our canes.

“We are so grateful to our volunteers and to the public for volunteering a few hours out of their day.”

To volunteer, go to blindweek.org.nz or phone 800 787 743.

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