Vital cafe club is a real cracker

Members of five café clubs run by N-Vision, the Blackpool Fylde and Wyre Society for the Blind, got together at the Winter Gardens for a festive celebration.

Monday, 10th December 2018, 1:07 pm
Updated Monday, 10th December 2018, 2:10 pm
N-Vision's Cafe Club at the Empress Grill Room, Winter Gardens

They had plenty to celebrate as the project was recently shortlisted for a 
national Visionary award – one of only 10 charities to make the grade.

Charity chief executive Ruth Lambert was thrilled and delighted the café clubs made the shortlist for an Inspirational Service Delivery award.

“It’s the first time we’ve 
entered. It’s an excellent project which makes a very real difference to quality of life and social engagement.”

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If the proof is in the pudding, members of all five café clubs had a great time as they tucked into Christmas lunch and chatted at the Empress Grill Room – and were royally entertained by resident pianist Brant Nuttall.

The café clubs were set up five years ago under the Big Lottery funded Visually Impaired Personalisation Support Brokerage Service – thankfully shortened to VIPS.

The aim of the clubs is to encourage people to get out and about, use transport links and become more familiar with local amenities and shopping facilities, often staying on in the various town centre 
venues, such as the Mazzei Café at the Winter Gardens, to chat with new friends after charity staff and volunteers have left the club.

The charity’s community services manager Maria Kirkland says the café clubs, which meet monthly at Cleveleys, Poulton, Fleetwood, St Annes and Blackpool, also benefit the business community and general public, too.

She said: “They take place within public cafes in order to be inclusive which in turn increases awareness of the challenges visually impaired persons face on a daily basis among local businesses and members of the public.

“Businesses have been keen to get involved.

“Clients have experienced positive lifestyle changes – some even becoming volunteers themselves.”

For some, such as former book binder, printer and photographer Ray Dobson, it was also a chance to return to a venue he played as a drummer – back in the big band days. It also marked a trip down memory lane for many others who courted or danced or attended concerts here.

“Even if you can’t see as clearly any more you never forget what a beautiful building the Winter Gardens is,” said Joan Valentine, who was enjoying lunch with husband Roy and friends.

N-Vision is a local independent charity providing services such as The Princess Alexandra Residential Care Home, Low Vision Centre, transcription service, sight awareness training and a Talking Newspaper.

For details of N-Vision’s cafe clubs, call (01253) 362696.