Ballymoney woman hails Blind Centre

Pictured at the Services Day are Coleraine residents Martin and Alison Purnell, Jonathan Adams (Community access worker RNIB NI), and Jillian Patchett (Senior Manager Prevention and Support Services RNIB NI) with RNIB mascot Sooty. Picture: Michael Cooper.
Pictured at the Services Day are Coleraine residents Martin and Alison Purnell, Jonathan Adams (Community access worker RNIB NI), and Jillian Patchett (Senior Manager Prevention and Support Services RNIB NI) with RNIB mascot Sooty. Picture: Michael Cooper.

A Ballymoney woman suffering from a rare eye condition says the Royal National Institute of Blind People Centre in Coleraine is providing an invaluable service for those living with sight loss in the Coleraine and Causeway areas.

Marlene Purdy (51), from Ballymoney, is partially sighted due to the eye condition coloboma - which is caused when a baby’s eyes do not develop properly during pregnancy. The condition occurs in about 1 in 10,000 births.

Marlene attended a ServicesOpen Day at the RNIB premises in Abbey Street last week and hailed the organisation for providing essential services

“I’ve been in contact with staff from RNIB for over five years now.

“When I returned from England after 30 years away, along with my immediate family, RNIB were a lifeline in getting me re-acquainted with the local community and in getting me out and about to meet other like minded people.

“I’m part of a social group, known as the Ballymoney Vision Group.

“We meet up every month and with the help of the RNIB staff, we visit local attractions and organise activities such as games of Newage Kurling and Boccia.

“What I find most reassuring about having the office so close is the approachability of the staff who work there.

“It’s just great to know that they are there and they live in the area themselves so they understand where we’re coming from and what matters to us.”

At the open day RNIB provided visitors with an insight into the portfolio of services on offer, including digital skills training, welfare rights, employment advice, children and families services and emotional support.

Staff from the Products and Advice service also demonstrated the latest products and daily living aids designed to enable people with sight loss to be independent either around the home or out and about in their daily lives.

Senior Manager for Prevention and Support services, Jillian Patchett, said: “It’s always worthwhile to get out and speak directly to those people who need us most and could benefit from our support.

“Already in 2015 we have made considerable efforts to increase what we can offer to people living with sight loss in the Coleraine and Causeway community.

“We now run a Parents and Toddler group for children who are blind or partially sighted and we offer a Drop In service at the premises on Abbey Street for families to walk in and ask for our help or support.

“Sometimes it’s simply a case of dispelling some of the myths surrounding sight loss or sign posting parents to other community services that can make a real difference in their everyday lives.

“As a leading sight loss charity we’re here for everyone affected by sight loss. Whether you’re losing your sight or you’re blind or partially sighted, our practical and emotional support can help you face the future with confidence.

“Sight loss can be isolating for a person facing the experience alone.”

* If you live in the Coleraine and Causeway area and are affected by sight loss or know of someone who is, call 028 7032 0333 or visit RNIB NI, 37 Abbey Street, Coleraine, BT52 1EX