My alarm goes off at 6.30am and the radio immediately comes on, keeping me company as I shower, choose my clothes and do my make up. On the way to work I’ll switch between apps, checking Instagram and Twitter before arriving at work where I flick through the papers. In the office, the radio is on as background noise with our workday punctuated by conversations about dinner, brainstorming for clients and pitching to papers. All the while our fingers tap away at keyboards and our eyes fixate on the monitor in front of us.
At night I’ll relax by reading or catching up on a box set on TV, I’ll listen to music while I prepare dinner and talk with my partner about our day. On those nights that I find it hard to fall asleep, I’ll listen to a podcast until I drop off. It took an awareness training day to show me just how much of my day is reliant upon being able to see and hear, senses that so many of us take for granted.
Sight loss affects over 180,000 people in Scotland, while 945,000 have some degree of hearing loss. North East Sensory Services (NESS) assists those living with sensory loss through practical support, as well as holding a number of interactive sensory awareness training days throughout the year. These are aimed at providing participants with a better understanding of the emotional and practical impact of sight and hearing loss, as well as the physical.
At my session, run by Training and Information Officer Libby Hillhouse, we experienced the challenges faced by the charity’s service users. From navigating a busy street while blindfolded, to attempting to lip-read complex statements, it gave our group a useful insight into how we can be more supportive of friends, family and colleagues living with sensory loss.
The charity, which operates in Moray, Aberdeen City and Shire, Angus, and Dundee, acknowledges that mental health can be adversely affected. Feeling overwhelmed, they have found some service users withdraw, thereby increasing the chance of isolation. NESS works actively to counter this by focusing on the importance of social inclusion through a broad range of projects and initiatives.
Residential weekends for young people, a comprehensive audio library, a dedicated ICT facility showcasing the huge range of technology available to deal with daily life, a fitness suite and café are all available at the main office in Aberdeen, with long-term loans offered on equipment such as telephones and alarm clocks.
Naturally for a charity with as broad a scope as this, NESS relies heavily on fundraising to support its work. Events ranging from race nights to its hugely popular Savour, where guests are treated to a four course meal by some of Scotland’s top chefs, allow the community to get behind this vital work and ensure that those people living with sensory loss can continue to live full and active lives.
For more information about NESS and the services it provides, please visit www.nesensoryservices.org. For more information on Savour 2018, which is on 24th March at The Marcliffe, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0345 271 2345