Sight Support HEY is celebrating after picking up a national award at the recent Visionary Conference.

Visionary is a national infrastructure organisation for all local sight support charities in the UK. The conference offers local societies the chance to share information and knowledge, network and make new contacts as well as listen to key note speakers from within the sight loss field.

The Visionary Awards aim to recognise and celebrate how local sight loss charities have delivered impactful services through partnership and how this has improved the positive difference made to visually impaired people. Highlighting local charities’ achievements helps to influence good practice throughout the sector and draws attention to the talent and expertise within the local sight loss sector across the UK.

Sight Support HEY won the “Connect” award in recognition of the charity’s partnership with fellow local charity Fitmums and Friends to provide inclusive walking and running session for blind and partially sighted people.

Funded by the National Lottery Reaching Communities Fund, the project supports people who want to improve their fitness levels and/or mental wellbeing and make new friends. The funding has allowed training to be provided to 20 sighted guides and offered free annual membership of the ‘FitMums and Friends’ network for all trained guides and visually impaired service users, allowing them access to any of the nine groups meeting in the Hull and East Yorkshire region.

Sandra Ackroyd, Chief Executive of Sight Support HEY said "All of us at Sight Support Hull & East Yorkshire are delighted to have been shortlisted in two of the Visionary award categories and to have won the ‘Connect’ award category. This award is a great recognition of the hard work of our staff and our partner organisation ‘FitMums & Friends’, another local charity, with whom we work very closely to deliver this project for the benefit of blind and partially sighted people”.

“The project is a huge success and sees sighted volunteers support people with visual impairments to participate in fitness walking, running and other physical activity to improve physical health and mental wellbeing as well as developing lasting friendships along the way”.

Many of those who have taken part in the sessions have expressed an improvement in not only their fitness levels, but also their self-confidence and general well-being.

“It’s really helped me with my mental health. It’s taken me out of myself. When I’m alone and a bit under the weather I can go into a bit of a downward spiral. Just coming on the walk and talking with so many friendly people, it lifts me every time.”

“I was always a slow walker and I wanted to challenge myself and get fitter. Thanks to the guides and coaches at the fitness walk I’ve even started running with a guide, which I never imagined doing. At school I missed out on a lot of PE lessons. Steve, Roy and the other leaders have been amazing in guiding me and teaching me the things I missed out on. Although I’m being guided, I feel free than I’ve ever felt before.”

Video courtesy of BBC Look North.