Norwich Torch Fellowship Group
The Norwich Torch Fellowship Group fills a need for local Christian fellowship and support for visually impaired people (VIPs).
People who are blind or partially sighted often find themselves isolated and lonely - excluded from many of the social things that sighted people take for granted.
Even in church they may feel left out and find their needs are not adequately addressed. Without sight they cannot read the church newsletter or noticeboard and find it
difficult to seek out friends and make new friendships.
Many want to meet together with those who face the same issues - to share experiences, to find resources and bring encouragement. Fellowship is vital to a fulfilling Christian life.
Meeting the need
This is where Torch Fellowship Groups like the one in Norwich fill a need. (Norwich Torch group is pictured, above).
They are not an alternative to church but do provide an opportunity for Christian fellowship between visually impaired and sighted people but where vision is not an issue.
A blind or partially sighted person can feel they really “belong” in a Torch Fellowship Group and find care and support that complements what is available from churches
The Norwich group has visually impaired people in leadership; fully involved in planning and running the activities of the group. (Pictured right is Norwich chairman Albert Betts)
The monthly meeting on the first Sunday of the month (excluding August) at 3pm is the main event in the Fellowship Group calendar.
The meetings are informal in style and the programme is adapted as necessary to suit those who belong. The Bible, songbooks and other literature in giant print, Braille and audio formats are used. Birthday cards are handed out and milestone birthdays and anniversaries are celebrated. Refreshments including appropriate seasonal fare are served at the end of the meeting. Guide Dogs are given a drink as well.
Other activities run by the group in recent years have included summer outings, a fun and games afternoon and a Christmas tea. Absent members are contacted and visited in their homes between meetings, where appropriate. Some members take advantage of the holidays organised at the Torch Holiday and Retreat Centre in scenic Sussex.
The group is open to all - whatever age - whether or not visually impaired and including those with multiple disabilities - to those who consider themselves Christians and those who don't.
For some, the Group represents an unpressured environment in which to explore the Christian faith for themselves - for others the opportunity to express their faith in practical ways and share the love of Jesus with others.
The Norwich Torch Fellowship Group depends entirely on voluntary effort: drivers to fetch people to the meeting place, those who prepare and serve refreshments, those who plan and lead the programme - and those who can simply befriend a lonely visually impaired person.
Want to get involved?
Contact Dorothy Read by telephoning 01603 425338
The Norwich Torch Fellowship Group is one of 130 groups that meet regularly in the UK and who share a commitment to the guiding principles set down by the Torch
Trust for the Blind, the UK based non-denominational Christian charity.
The Torch Trust for the Blind aims to overcome sight loss as a barrier to finding a personal faith in Christ and living a fulfilled Christian life. Torch produces a wide range of Christian literature in accessible media (Braille, giant print, audio and the latest electronic formats) and operates a postal library service with over 2,000 titles covering theological, devotional, missionary, biographical and Christian leisure reading from its headquarters in Market Harborough, Leicestershire.
(Pictured right is a visually impaired lady using the latest DAISY format CD player to listen to Every Day with Jesus.)
Started in the UK, Torch now provides material in other languages, promotes Christian fellowship among visually impaired people throughout the world and also targets practical personal support to blind people in some poorer countries. (Pictured is an African woman reading Braille.)
Article by Dorothy Read