Vista’s visit – “The staff have been brilliant!”

Monday 15th October – Friday 19th October 2018, 19 visitors

Vista is Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland’s leading charity for people with sight loss. They have been in existence for almost 160 years and work with children and adults of all ages, including children’s services and rehabilitation. I sat down with Steve and Paula, who brought the group up this week, and they gave me their feedback for the week at the Lake District Calvert Trust (LDCT). They have been twice before so we had a lot to live up to!

“One of our focuses predominantly this week was to bring up families with children with sight loss and complex or profound disabilities. We find that with sight loss, the disability is very often forgotten. It was important for us to bring this group with us this time for that reason.” said Steve.

They choose the LDCT again as they knew that the needs of Vista, and the needs of the families are met. Paula said “One of our main aims was to get families here, and for everything to be inclusive for that family”. Paula said that that aim was achieved. Steve added, “What we found is that the Calvert does ‘what it says on the tin’. You will adapt to meet the needs. Where we have had to adapt, we have not been met with any resistance to anything. It’s the trust in Calvert and the brand that comes with it. It’s brilliant!”

Steve continued, “We tell the families that haven’t been, that the week here will push the barriers and boundaries and take you out of your comfort zone, but the outcomes are beneficial and worthwhile. The week has exceeded our expectations.”

The group have done a range of activities, including canoeing, cycling, rope and wheelchair course, archery and bush craft. Some activities were initially thought to be too challenging for some individuals, however Paula explained that this myth was quickly expelled, “It was amazing – the activities didn’t exclude anybody. Your specialist equipment allowed everyone to fully be involved.” The group have spent a good bit of time in the pool and sensory room too, which they say “is an amazing bit of kit!” Steve added, “The Centre is so accessible – so much of the fear factor disappears completely!” Paula quickly added that the kids here have adapted too, which is hugely positive.

Steve continued “The course has had a massive benefit on the group, as different families [who didn’t know each other previously] are now talking to each other and planning on what they can do together locally; their problems are very like-minded. True friendships have been made and families have been brought together, which is just fantastic.”

The group have clearly had a great time “I have seen a lot more expressions come out here; kids that don’t smile a lot, have been smiling a lot.” Paula continues by ‘bigging up’ the LDCT staff. “All the staff are amazing; all the staff are approachable; nothing is too much trouble for them. That’s even down to the kitchen staff – the kitchen staff are amazing, absolutely amazing!” Steve re-assures how accommodating the staff have been, “The staff have been brilliant!”

Both Paula and Steve advised potential groups who are not familiar with the LDCT that it could be worth visiting and assessing the Centre themselves if they are unsure. This is what they did and it certainly re-assured them. To labour this point, Steve explained “A couple of families with kids with very complex needs were very apprehensive about the canoeing; they were so worried about being on the water. But it was just a ‘Wow!’ moment. We also had a 3 year old, and were not sure how he was going to be accommodated. He has been able to do everything that everyone else has.”

I finally asked if they had any advice for groups looking to book, and, as a well-known shoe manufacturer says, they advised “Just do it!” That gets a tick from me!

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