Black Country

Black Country Sight Loss Council held its launch event in August 2018 at Beacon Centre in Wolverhampton. Since then, the Council has grown and is now actively participating in local projects to improve accessibility in and around the Black Country.

If you are interested in finding out more information about volunteering for the Sight Loss Councils, read the Volunteer Role Description below and fill in our short expression of interest form. If you would like to apply to become a Sight Loss Council member, apply online.

Volunteer Role Description Sight Loss Council Member (DOCX, 60 KB)

 

Meet the team

Louise Connop is the Engagement Manager for Birmingham.  She has been registered Sight Impaired since birth and Severely Sight Impaired from the age of seven.

Louise enjoys spending time with her two young children and generally living life to the full, travelling and socialising with her friends and family.  She is extremely passionate about raising awareness of visual Impairment (VI), educating and encouraging the wider world to understand how to become more VI friendly.

Previously Louise worked in marketing, the public sector and ran the Low Vision Department at the Beacon Centre for the Blind in Wolverhampton.

“With the right attitude and support network, we can all achieve whatever we put our minds to” is a phase that Louise uses often. Come along and see what we are all about.

 

Black Country Sight Loss Council members

Carl Galloway

Carl has had sight loss since 2014 due to WKS which is a thymine deficiency condition causing damage to the brain. Prior to his sight loss Carl used to work in the steel industry and had to overcome many obstacles.  Carl joined the SLC in October 2020 as he wanted to help people overcome the fear and disappointment when they lose their sight by ensuring everyone has the correct access to services.

As a keen artist in his spare time Carl has a passion for 3D printing. You can also find him keeping fit and spending time with loved ones.

 

Caroline Kinnings

Caroline has nystagmus and has been visually impaired all of her life. She joined the SLC back in 2018. She used to volunteer for TPT at Pocklington Place in Birmingham and thoroughly enjoyed her time there.

Caroline enjoys visiting her local theatre to watch the audio described performances, playing VI football and tandem cycling.

 

Clare Williams

Clare became Severely Sight Impaired over 15 years ago with a form of Macular Degeneration. She has been a guide dog owner for the past nine years.  Clare joined the Black Country SLC at the very beginning to highlight the challenges faced by VI people within her community.

Clare enjoys taking part in SLC events, forums and activities and is passionate about issues including transport, travel, health services and access to restaurants.

In her spare time Clare enjoys singing in her local choir and exploring new places with her guide dog Quita.

 

Craig Smith

Craig has been totally blind since 2019 due to diabetes, which he has had since a young child.  Craig joined the Black Country SLC in 2020 after a recommendation from one of our existing members.  He is keen to encourage blind and partially sighted young people to be positive and get out there and enjoy life.

In his spare time, he enjoys attending church, listening to music and having a social coffee and catch up with friends.

 

Jagdeep Rana

Jagdeep joined the Black Country SLC in lockdown 2020. He had previously been volunteering at a local sight loss charity and wanted to continue to give back to the VI community.  Along with nystagmus, Jagdeep also has moderate learning difficulties and is keen to empower others to reach their potential.  He wants to help ensure everyone has the same access to goods and services in his community.

Outside of volunteering Jagdeep enjoys a ‘good knees up’ and bite to eat with friends.  He is also a keen ten pin bowling playing and has won awards with his team at the National Blind Bowling League.

 

James Preston

James has been registered Severely Sight Impaired for almost 20 years due to a detached retina after a serious assault.  He has no sight in one eye and limited vision in the other.

James joined Black Country SLC two years ago and wanted to make a difference to the lives of other VI people in his community. He is passionate about helping others overcome barriers connected with adjusting to living with sight loss after being sighted for many years.

In his spare time James enjoys participating in voluntary work at his local hospice along with his guide dog Nelson.  He also likes to keep fit and is regularly found at the gym or playing VI cricket.

 

Meena Rattu

Meena has been registered VI all her life as she was born with congenital glaucoma.  As well as being registered Severely Sight Impaired she is also deaf in her leaf ear. She is passionate about encouraging other people to live the lives they wish to lead.

She joined Black Country SLC in October 2020 after volunteering for a local sight loss charity for a couple of years.

Outside of volunteering Meena enjoys socialising with friends, spending quality time with her family, listening to music and swimming.

 

Mohammed Azeem

Mo has been registered Severely Sight Impaired since he was a small child with Retinitis Pigmentosa amongst other conditions.  He joined Black Country SLC in March 2021 to help and support other VI individuals within his local community to ensure they had access to goods and services in the same way as his sighted peers.

In his spare time Mo enjoys taking part in VI sports and activities, travelling to new destinations and socialising with friends and family.

 

Perm Bhachu

Perm is visually impaired and joined the Black Country SLC two years ago as she felt strongly about making an impact and representing the VI community.  She is passionate about encouraging others in their daily life and campaigns specifically in the areas of transport and health, including raising awareness with local authorities and doctors surgeries about the challenges VI people face.  She is keen to raise awareness among the wider public that we do not all fit the same stereotype.

In her spare time Perm enjoys yoga, meeting friends, surrealism and impressionist art. Perm believes the way forward for people who are VI is through technology. She wants to learn new skills while making a positive difference.

 

Stephen Keegan

Steve’s sight loss started at the age of 14 when he had a haemorrhage in one of his eyes.  His sight gradually continued to deteriorate over the next five years, and he is now registered as sight impaired.

Steve joined Black Country SLC in early 2021 as he wanted to help the local VI community have the same access to venues etc as everyone else.

An avid boat enthusiast, Steve can regularly be found walking along the local canals with his camera in hand as he is also a keen photographer.

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