VI Talk Link Day in Liverpool
By Jo Fishwick
This is a report of the first VI talk link day; held at Bradbury Fields Liverpool on Saturday 22 September 2018. Although, this is written in a reflective style, its main intention is to give an objective and concise picture of what happened on the day.
We’ve previously held a couple of Open Days for VI Talk but had decided to run local events on a slightly smaller scale. With this firmly in mind, preparations began for our first Link Day and we chose the north west as it was an area we hadn’t selected before. Bradbury Fields in Liverpool was chosen as a venue and over the next few months, everything was organized; from the buffet lunch and invitation of speakers to which of the trustees would run the event and also where we would stay.
The VI Talk trustees are hugely generous and supportive; Putting each other up in their homes and paying for their own travel costs. They take minimal financial support from VI talk itself, as everyone is keen to ensure that resources are spent on increasing opportunities for members.
Saturday 22nd September arrived and it was an early start. Along with my Daughter Jodie and fellow trustee Sam, we stayed at Dawn and her husband Paul’s house the night before. As we generally have quite a lot of things to take to these events, we decided to get a taxi there and back. We arrived at the venue at 9am to find that the staff at Bradbury Fields had tea and coffee ready for us. They had organised volunteers and the Garden Suite that we would be using was lovely. Tables and chairs had been set out. A lectern and mike were at the front in readiness and they’d even put out water bowls for our four legged friends.
We’d organised three speakers and each one was wonderful in their own way. As you’d expect, there was some humour thrown in as two of our speakers were from Liverpool.
I did a quick intro and Sam went round touching each person on the shoulder, allowing them to introduce themselves and their guide dog if applicable.
Luke Howarth from Sightline was first to speak. He briefly told his story and explained all about the great work done mainly by volunteers. We’re going to interview Luke in the next month or so.
After a quick coffee break, Louise Miller who works for Bradbury gave an interesting talk, giving us the history of the centre and outlining all the challenges and changes that had taken place over the years. She highlighted lots of the groups and activities that are available for people to get involved with.
I should mention at this point that there was a bell on the window sill, of the kind used in school playgrounds years ago and Dawn used this to best advantage when she was making announcements.
As we’d allowed plenty of time for lunch and for attendees to network and get to know each other, it left time for me to outline what VI Talk is all about and to mention some of the ways in which we try to raise money for the charity.
Sam ran a raffle and did a great job of emptying peoples pockets. We raised £57 and also received a donation of £10.
After a lovely lunch, it was time to hear from Dave Kelly from DAISY. He told us his story and explained all about DAISY and how it had developed over the years.
Another break for refreshments and Sam drew the raffle. There were happy faces as wine, chocolates and even a teddy bear sporting a VI Talk cape were won.
We’d left an hour at the end for general chat and for people to tell their stories.
We chatted about sport and which ones are available in the north west. Then we moved on to education and of course specialist and mainstream were both spoken about.
Recordings of the speakers will go out soon and emails have already started being circulated with details given by the speakers and contact details for clubs and organisations that were shared during social times.
The Link Days are a wonderful opportunity for not only blind and partially sighted people to come together but their friends and families and anyone who works in the field of visual impairment.
Lots of ideas, information and support was shared and it’s full steam ahead for London, where our next event is being held on November 24th.
Just before I close, I want to thank not only Dawn and Sam for their hard work before and during the day but Jodie and Paul without who the day wouldn’t have run as smoothly. Between them they met people at the station, booked people in and gave out name badges, took photos and tweeted them and made sure our lovely guide dogs were well looked after throughout the event.
Special thanks of course go to the staff and volunteers at Bradbury Fields who made the day run smoothly and pulled out all the stops for what will hopefully be the first of many VI Talk Link Days.