I am the senior employment manager at Thomas Pocklington Trust and have been registered blind since I was 11.
On World Sight Day, I want to show that with a few minor adaptions, my life is pretty similar to anyone else’s.
My day starts at 6:00. Hauling myself out of bed is always a struggle but my partner Charlie and I have a pet greyhound called Jammy and his barking is an alarm you just can’t snooze through – when that pooch wants his food, you’d better make a move! Time is tight in the morning, so Charlie and I divide the labour. I start by feeding the dog, using a tactile jug to measure out his kibble. Then I put the coffee on; Charlie often refers to me as the ‘blind barista’ because of my ability to make “a damn fine cup of coffee”. I use a liquid level indicator to pour the cups.
Now 8:00am and time for the commute – but it’s not your usual commute. Charlie and I cycle to work together on our tandem. Charlie at the front, and I’m on the back – this works well because she is fully sighted – having a blind front rider might be a step too far. If you’d said to me two years ago I’d be cycling through central London to get to work, I’d probably still be laughing now, but I really enjoy it.
I’ve got a lot on this morning as I’ve agreed to speak about my educational experiences and career at a Guide Dogs event for teachers. I finish the talk by 10:00, I feel it went well. I made the audience laugh, which I always take as a good sign, plus they had some interesting questions. Checking the time, I realise getting back to the office in time for my next meeting will be difficult, so using voiceover on my iPhone, I order an Uber.The driver dropped me off at 10:45 in completely the wrong place. He drove off, which isn’t the first time this has happened. I check Google Maps and realise I’m quite near to the Pocklington Hub. I ask some passers-by for some sighted assistance and they put me on track, I make a mental note to follow up with Uber to get my fare back in due course.
From 11:00 onwards, it’s a standard day at work. In the Employment team, we are currently looking at how we can support more blind and partially sighted people into paid employment. We’ll save that for another blog though!
17:30 is home time. Charlie rocks up to the Hub with our tandem, I hop on and we pedal home.
We’re back out at 20:00 and on our way to a gig. We both love live music – most venues offer a free Personal Assistant ticket to disabled attendees and we like to take advantage of this. Tonight’s gig is rather lively; I sometimes think I’m twenty again and make my way to the front of the crowd – and this has turned out to be one of those nights! Going to gigs has always been one of my passions and losing my sight has never impacted on my enjoyment of live music. People at live music events have often been some of the most helpful and friendly people I have ever come across, so it’s an environment I feel confident in.
The gig finishes at 22:30 but I’ve lost Charlie. I’m not worried as this happens sometimes, so I drop her a text saying I’ll meet her outside. I get my white cane out and make my way through the crowd to the exit. Normally somebody offers to give me a hand and tonight is no different.
It’s then home time, reflecting on a great – but busy day.