A group set up to help blind and partially sighted people participate in art and craft activities is appealing for volunteers.
VIEW Craft (Visually Impaired Eastbourne and Wealden Craft) is a voluntary organisation which meets weekly on Tuesday mornings at Herstmonceux Village Hall.
The organisation provides a range of activities for people who are blind or partially sighted across Wealden and Eastbourne, including mosaic work, chair caning, wood carving, weaving and painting. The group has around 40 members and relies on volunteers to help tutor the craftwork and drive people to the village hall from their homes. It is looking for more drivers and a tutor to bring new skills to the group.
The Express went along to meet the volunteers and members on Tuesday (November 19) and was met with a warm welcome, and an assortment of beautiful sculptures, paintings, and baskets. One group was making a Christmas wreath for the front door. Sally Wallis, who is a trustee for the organisation, said some of the group use their hands to guide them when making the crafts and the quality of the work is phenomenal. The group push themselves to the limit and despite the incredible craftwork, some joined the group with no craft skills at all.
She led the Express to a table where members were carving sculptures out of wood - one of the members was totally blind. She said the group is a way for people to get out and meet new people, who are otherwise unable to leave their homes or feel isolated. She encouraged anyone who is partially sighted or blind to get involved. Sally added: “We are always looking for new members and sponsorship. We have got drivers who collect people and bring them here. More often than not the drivers stay and help. But we do need more drivers to help us. We are in desperate need of a tutor for the chair caning table. If they could also bring new skills to the table so we can learn something new that would be good.”
There are around five tables laid out in the hall with about ten members per table taking part in the activities. There is a happy and contented buzz as people chatter away and concentrate on the items they are making.
Jean Wilson, who is partially sighted, was making a beautiful mosaic door number. Jean, who is secretary of the charity, said: “The group is very important to everybody here. There are a lot of people who are unable to get out. But doing something like this, and sitting around talking, it is more than doing crafts for people.”
Christopher Collin, who is partially sighted and was taking part in chair caning, said: “Once a week it gets people out of their homes, they can socialise with other people and make friends and that is really the most important thing.”