Open your eyes to the needs of the blind
By Dorothy Read
"Blindness can present some very real problems to those exploring the Christian faith and to those who are already Christians," says Gordon Temple (pictured right), chief executive of the Torch Trust for the Blind who is visiting Norwich on December 6.
"It is possible for visually impaired people to feel excluded from church life and fellowship when even the most simple things like getting to the services and then finding and making friends can be so daunting. So much we do as Christians involves reading – singing hymns and songs, reading the Bible in church or at home, learning from Christian books and keeping in touch through Christian magazines, newsletters and the Internet. Just imagine how much you would miss if you couldn't access these resources!," he says.
Two per cent of people in Britain are or could be registered as visually impaired and an increasing percentage of us will experience a debilitating loss of sight in our later years so the need for the service that the Torch Trust provides is evident.
The Torch Trust for the Blind aims to help people overcome sight loss as a barrier to finding a personal faith in Christ and to living a fulfilled Christian life by producing Christian literature in an accessible form that blind and partially sighted people can read and by promoting Christian fellowship among visually impaired people and between them and sighted people.
From their purpose built headquarters and production centre in Leicestershire, Torch operates a free postal library of Christian books in audio, braille and giant print for visually impaired readers. The variety of reading material means that borrowers range from children through general readers to the more scholarly. With over 3,000 titles in the library there is plenty to choose from and over 500 books are out on loan at any one time.
In addition, Torch produces Bible reading notes, magazines, bibles, hymn books, Scriptures Text Calendars, tactile greeting cards and booklets for use by Christian groups here and overseas.
Torch has around 35 full-time staff and over 1000 volunteers across the UK who contribute their time to transcription work, the running of over 120 Fellowship Groups which provide local fellowship and companionship, assisting during the holidays and learning opportunities held at the Torch Holiday and Retreat Centre in Sussex and to supporting an international work that reaches into 100 countries worldwide.
To find out more about becoming involved with the Torch Trust and how this non-denominational charity can help your church or group fully include visually impaired people, come along to hear Gordon Temple speak about the work at Meadow Way Chapel's Mission Link on Saturday December 6, at 7.30pm.
"Gordon Temple's visit presents a great opportunity for people to learn about the latest developments in the worldwide and UK work of the Torch Trust for the Blind", says Mervyn Ivany, the visually impaired chairman of the Norwich Torch Fellowship Group, "And to find out how you can become involved with the Torch Trust locally."
For more details about Gordon Temple's visit, please contact Paul Smith of Meadow Way Chapel on 01603 261189
Venue: Meadow Way Chapel, Chapel Court, Hellesdon, Norwich, NR6 5NU
To find out more about the Torch Trust, log onto www.torchtrust.org or find their local fellowship group at http://norwich-torch-fellowship.blogspot.com
Churches are challenged over access for blind
By Dorothy Read
The Torch Trust for the Blind
have launched their Foursight
campaign to challenge churches into attracting people with sight loss into their congregations and it has been backed by the Norwich
group. Just imagine
what it would be like to go to your church if you had little or no eyesight. How would you get there? Would the steward show you to your seat? Would somebody sit next to you and give you any help that you needed during the service? How would you know if your friends are in church this morning? Are the church Bibles, songbooks, order of service and newssheet available in a media that you could use?
How would you join in?
Churches that wish to help those with sight loss can follow the "Four Steps" on the Foursight website
Briefly, the "Four Steps"
are: 1. Recognise the Need
National statistics suggest that a congregation of just 30 is likely to have one person who has a degree of sightloss that could make it difficult for them to read the songbook, appreciate the flowers, see the preacher or view the PowerPoint screen. 2. Register
to access resources
Visit the Foursight webpage www.foursight.org.uk
and complete the simple form, giving the name of your church and your contact details. Once registered you will have access to a growing body of on-line resources that will help you and your church make a difference for blind and partially sighted people. 3. Order the Church Pack
The pack includes a welcoming guide, details of publishers of Christian material in braille, large print and audio, and a list of suggestions of how your church can reach out to blind and partially sighted people in the local community and overseas. 4. Prepare for Now and the Future
Just think one in four of us will suffer some sort of sight loss, temporary or permanent during our life times. It could be you!
Mervyn Ivany, chairman of the Norwich Torch Fellowship Group comments: "I would love to see more blind and partially sighted people actively involved in the churches in Norfolk and my hope is that many churches will take advantage of the resources available on the new foursight website"
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