There are many organisations out there that support blind and visually impaired people. You may have heard of the Royal National Institution for Blind People (RNIB), The Royal Society for Blind Children (RSBC) and, if you’re in the the North (like me) you’ve likely heard of Henshaws.

Now I’d never engaged much with charities for visually impaired people over the years; aside from a youth group I attended led by Action for Blind People. But I’ve always known they’re there if I need them.

As I’ve got older, I’ve started to engage more with these organisations in a professional capacity.

Back in 2020, when lockdown hit, I worked with Henshaws through my Company, Beyond Empower, to establish some yoga sessions for blind people they supported.

We found the yoga coach, provided them with some brief training to help them make their instructions more audio descriptive and Henshaws found the people who were interested in accessing the sessions. We supported them for a bit and now they’re managed independently by the coach and members without the need for either Beyond Empower or Henshaws – which is what we want.
So we’ve had some relationship for a while. Then when Better Places Nicky and Candy’s Street launched I thought they might be interested so reached out to my contact there who referred me to their children’s services lead, Mel.
Mel understood what I was trying to do with Nicky and Candy’s Street, it’s message and the importance of getting it out there — so there was always an appetite to do something together it was just how and what.
For starters, I was invited to their Christmas activity event and had a stall for children to make their Candy canes. This was a great day and I really got to know some of the children and parents.
One of the people I met there was Shane who I think it’s fair to say wasn’t that impressed with me when we first started talking. But on mentioning to his dad I had written a book he was all ears and questions being an aspiring author himself. We’ve stayed in touch ever since and meet monthly to work on and refine his writing and story he’s working on – watch this space.
I was also recently invited to residential to meet some of the older young people Henshaws work with, share my story and answer questions as they prepare for adult life, the world of further education and employment.
But we still didn’t have a really solid way of working together on Better Places Nicky and Candy’s Street even though it just made sense.
That was until a couple of weeks ago.
I received a call from Nicole from Henshaws who works on the children and young people’s team. She explained that they were able to deliver visual impairment awareness workshops in primary schools and thought the hook of an author and relevant book would be a good way to engage schools.
After a bit of thought about how we could make it work, I suggested that I’d be happy to donate a reading and Q&A to any school visit that Henshaws was able to generate. This would hopefully help Henshaws engage schools with the offer of an author accompanying them and it’d help me reach more schools. Win, win.
It’s taken a while for us to get here but I’m glad we finally have this partnership and way of working established between Better Places and Henshaws.
And it’s already providing popular with us having our first school visit on Wednesday 18th October at Woodlands Primary Academy in Oldham.
I’m excited to see how it goes and will be sure to keep you updated.

Witten by Ben Andrews on