Almost two million people in the UK are living with sight loss. That's approximately one person in 30, with 1 in 5 people aged 75 living with visual impairments.
Also, almost half of blind and partially sighted people feel 'moderately' or 'completely' cut off from people and things around them, however there are groups such as these doing work to change that.
The Sheffield Visually Impaired Walking Group (SVIWG) is an volunteer-led group organising walks for visually impaired people from in and around the Sheffield area. SVIWG meets on the 3rd Tuesday, 2nd Wednesday and 4th Sunday of every month. It also meets once per month on a Thursday.
Tuesday walks are shorter and easier, perfect for people just getting started out or wanting a more relaxed walk. Thursday walks are longer and a bit rougher, for anyone who wants a bit more of a challenge.
The group was started back in 2000, when founding member Ted Ellerton decided that his impairment shouldn’t hold him back from doing the things he wanted to do. He and social worker Gill Thompson founded the walking group, helped by the Sheffield Rambler’s Association who provided guides for the walks. Ever since then, it’s grown into what it is today.
Since those first walks, the group has been on motorcycling trips, tandem rides as well as partaking in activities such as gliding, bird listening, dry-stone walling, and have even gone on holiday together.
The group also does a yearly challenge to raise money for Sheffield Royal Society for the Blind, previously going to Mount Snowdon and Skafell Pike.
More than these challenges and achievements, though - the thing we found the most amazing about the group was the sense of community they brought to each other. Our documentary crew didn’t know them long, but we were truly accepted and made to feel completely welcome by every member of the group, both on the walks and when they welcomed us into their homes.