“An Enormous Difference”

The award of a Smiley Bus which has continued the Steve Morgan Foundation’s support of the Bradbury Fields charity helping people with sight loss, has made an “enormous difference” to the organisation.

Bradbury Fields, based in Liverpool, is a charity which offers a range of services to help people right from the first moment they are told that their sight is deteriorating.

Having previously received funding for their ‘Be Active’ service which helps partially-sighted people get out and about to take part in activities, Bradbury Fields has now reported back after a year of use out of their Smiley Bus.

“The Smiley Bus has made an enormous difference to Bradbury Fields,” says Nicky Barnett, Services Manager/Deputy CEO of the charity.

“It has enabled the most isolated of our blind and partially sighted service users to participate in a number of social and leisure and sports activities which otherwise would have been out of their reach. 

“For example, on a weekly basis the minibus brings in around 50 people to our Active Vision Club which operates daily from Monday to Thursday, takes our service users to swimming and gym sessions, and is used at weekends by the Bradbury Fields walking group allowing them to go on walks in surrounding areas such as North Wales.

“Most blind and partially sighted people find independent travel difficult if not impossible as a result of their sight loss. 

“The provision of a minibus allows Bradbury Fields to organise travel for our visually impaired service users, so they can engage in activities which we offer to them, and also in other activities of their choosing that would otherwise simply be inaccessible.

“By encouraging friendships to develop, some service users have organised group events such as going the to the races, and visiting places of interest for which the provision of safe and reliable transport is essential.

“Our Smiley Bus means that anything is possible for our service users to do, without the worry of how they get to and from where they want to go.”

As well as the walking club, the Smiley Bus has also been hugely important in helping the development of the Bradbury Fields choir – Liverpool Inspirational Voices.

The choir has 12 visually impaired members, including the pianist, and the Smiley Bus has helped them travel around the country over the last year to perform more gigs and grow in confidence.

The Bus was also used to help the choir link up with the My Sight Notts sensory choir in Nottingham, with the two choirs having now sung together thanks to having the transport to be able to meet up.

Phil Longworth, CEO of Bradbury Fields, has also highlighted the support of the Steve Morgan Foundation as being instrumental in the charity’s development.

“We have had terrific support from the Steve Morgan Foundation, from the funding three years ago for our Be Active service, to this fantastic Smiley Bus,” says Phil.

“We have also benefitted from their Enable fund, with one or two of our members successful in securing specialised equipment which has enhanced their lives.

“Everything we do as a charity is about making a difference in people’s lives, and the Smiley Bus has really helped in that respect.

“We had a visit from the Foundation when we applied for the Bus, and a group of our service users met with the trustees.

“I wish we had filmed it, because the things that were said linked to all areas of life and all conditions, was just phenomenal.

“Funding like this is so important to us because without it, we wouldn’t be able to start up our various initiatives or keep them running when we have proved they make such a positive difference to people’s lives.”

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