Cam Sight is a wonderful Cambridge charity that I’ve been meaning to write about for some time now. From its Cambridge HQ in Chesterton and its Wisbech outreach centre, its staff and a band of around 350 dedicated volunteers work to ensure that clients with low vision and blindness can access the support and advice they need to live the life they choose.
I met with Nick Burr, Cam Sight’s Fundraising and Promotions Officer, and his beautiful assistance dog Amber, to find out more about this remarkable organisation which began life as the Cambridge Society for the Blind in 1912 and which today works with around 1800 clients across Cambridgeshire.
The services that Cam Sight offers are extensive. On the practical side of life, there’s help with choosing of and training on the many technologies available. There’s a weekly magnification and lighting clinic and they sell a wide range of equipment to help with carrying out day to day tasks, from talking clocks to canes, kitchen safety aids and large button telephones. In one-to-one sessions, a (re)habilitation specialist can help with mobility, orientation and daily living skills while the community team visits clients at home, to help and advise with welfare and housing benefits application as well as adaptations to the home.
The emotional side of life is, of course, just as important as the practical. Cam Sight organises outings and social activities while volunteer befrienders give support and companionship in many different ways. And in a peer support initiative, there are monthly gatherings held across Cambridgeshire for clients, their carers and family members. Cam Sight also offers emotional support and counselling sessions.
“We run three groups for children,” Nick tells me, “for preschool and 4 – 11 year olds, then the teenage group is a lot of fun, whether they’re playing pool and eating pizza, enjoying an activity day or a trip to a theme park.”
Cam Sight also supports clients to return to sport or indeed to try a new sport. Tandem cycling is an option, with a trained sighted pilot and a low vision stoker. They own seven tandems and on 1 July, several pairs will be cycling in the annual London to Cambridge bike ride (yes, that is 63 miles!) to raise money for Cam Sight. So they’re busy training and if you’d like to sponsor them, please get in touch at email@example.com
Another fundraiser coming up is Cam Sight’s first Golf Day on 20 July at Cambridge Meridian Golf Club. You can enter individually or get a team of four together. There’ll be 18 holes of golf plus breakfast, a barbecue, prizes, a raffle and an auction, all for a suggested donation of £60 per person. To sign up for the Golf Day, just contact firstname.lastname@example.org
On 17 July at 7.30pm, there’s a talk “John Henslow and the Education of Charles Darwin” given by Professor John Parker, former Director of the Cambridge University Botanic Garden, at the Sainsburys Laboratory Auditorium. Tickets are £15, include canapes and drinks and are available from Cam Sight on 01223 420033. Fundraising activities are also organised by the Friends of Cam Sight, a group who run their own events in support of the charity’s work.
If you’d be interested in volunteering with Cam Sight, there are many roles available from driving to befriending, helping with bucket collections at external events and riding as a pilot on a tandem. Joy Hallifax, the volunteer team leader, would be delighted to hear from you. Just email her on email@example.com All volunteers receive an induction with full training and ongoing support.
167 Green End Road, Cambridge CB4 1RW
14 Chapel Road, Wisbech PE13 1RF