Calendar of events

Tone up Tuesday and Thursday gym sessions

Get fit by joining us at the Portway Lifestyle Centre for ‘Tone up Tuesdays’ and take part in spin, gym, body pump and VI archery sessions – all with the help and support of our great buddies.

  • Spin ‑ Coach by Colour, work out as you peddle your exercise bike to the beat of the music as you are prompted by the coach to change resistance and speed. The session is timetabled at Portway - 9.30am to 10.15am
  • Gym – 10am to12noon buddy support will be on hand to help you safely get the best out of Portway’s gym equipment like the treadmill, cross trainer, rowing machines and weights.
  • Body pump ‑ a dumbbell weighted workout to music.  Session starts at 12.15 pm for a 45 minute class and these classes will be free for those holding a Portway Pass. If you live outside of Sandwell and purchase a concessionary pass the class is discounted by 50%.
  • VI archery ‑ bring out the Robin Hood in your soul as you test your skills with a bow and arrow. Join us from 1.00pm to 2.00 pm. There is a £2.50 fee per session for this activity to help cover costs of our archery instructor.

Can’t do a Tuesday morning or want to work out on Thursdays as well, then join our sessions at Portway on Thursday afternoons from 2.00pm to 4.00pm in the gym and spin from 2.00pm to 2.45pm (subject to availability)

Many of our activities at Portway are free at certain times of the day for visually impaired Sandwell residents who are Fair Access to Care eligible, are in receipt of a disability benefit such as DLA, PIP or Attendance Allowance or if you wish to attend the gym out of these periods then concessionary cards can be purchased to give a discount on classes.  If you live outside of Sandwell you are very welcome to join us but fees will apply.

Swimming and water confidence

Fancy a dip? Absolute beginners and confident swimmers can come along to SVI’s swim buddy supported sessions at the West Bromwich Leisure Centre every Wednesday from 3pm to 4pm. We have free use of the teaching pool, which we use at a depth of 1.2 metres so is good for swimming as well as learning and relaxation. During this disabled swimming period you can enjoy the pool with complete confidence and you can use the large pool if you feel happy to swim alongside the general public.

Note: swimming is free for visually impaired residents of Sandwell in all pools across the Borough but SVI are only able to offer buddy support at the West Bromwich Leisure Centre pool at this time on a Wednesday.

If you are a visually impaired SVI member living outside of Sandwell, you are welcome to join us for our swimming sessions but charges will apply.

VI cricket

Originally a Men’s group activity the VI Cricket has sparked interest from a number of our lady members too so, due to this demand, the VI Cricket is now open to everyone.

If you are interested in taking part in this activity for the first time please contact the SVI Office where your name will be added to the mailing list and we will contact you later in the summer with information on our next session which will take place at the Portway Lifestyle Centre.

Goal Ball - a Team sport for blind and visually impaired people

Coming soon during July\August

A team sport for blind and visually impaired people - however, sighted people can also play as the rules denote that everyone has to wear sight shades and goggles to ensure fair play.

We are planning a taster session to take place at the Portway Lifestyle Centre. If you would like to find out more, please contact the SVI office so that once a date has been finalised, we can contact you to let you know when the session is going to take place.

Weigh to Go - Wednesdays

Drop in or come to one of our Wednesday activities at West Bromwich Town Hall and take part in ‘Weigh in Wednesdays’. Any time between 10.30am and 2.30pm. We have ‘Weigh to Go’ scales and standard talking scales. We hope to be running a healthy living course in the near future, so keep a look out for more details coming soon.   

Mindfulness sessions

Our very own Information and Support Worker, Cassie Judd who is also a fully qualified mindfulness instructor, will be delivering Mindfulness sessions in the late summer. Mindfulness is an integrative, mind-body based approach that helps people to manage their thoughts and feelings and mental health. Mindfulness exercises are ways of paying attention to the present moment, using techniques like meditation and breathing - more details coming soon.

Fitness Yoga – Mondays 12.15pm to 1pm

Keeping on the mindfulness and meditation theme, come to the inclusive yoga session on Mondays, from 12.15pm to 1pm at the Portway Lifestyle Centre. These fully inclusive yoga classes are for all and VI people are very welcome to attend free for those holding a Portway Pass. If you live outside of Sandwell and purchase a concessionary pass the class is discounted by 50%.

Tea and Toast drop in sessions

Pop in to our base at West Bromwich Town Hall on the first Wednesday morning of each month from 10.30am to 12 noon to enjoy a slice of toast, other tasties and a cuppa over a chat with your SVI friends. Help is on hand from our staff who can offer support with anything you need to get sorted. We have guests from other organisations who will tell you about their services and how they can help you. For example, recent guests have included: Sandwell Crime Prevention Team, Healthwatch Sandwell and a member’s feedback session.

SocialEyes

Are you visually impaired, a family member, friend or helper of a person living with sight loss and want to do more adventurous or social activities? Then sign up to be a member of our new SocialEyes group.

Members have recently enjoyed a CurryOke evening at the Jolly Sailor, where we were amazed at the fantastic talent in SVI. A day at Dudley Zoo which included a ‘creature feature’, a chance to handle some of our smaller furry friends. Other future activities include a pub quiz and social evening. A day of activities at the Sandwell Valley with tandems, Surrey cycles, crazy golf and pedalos. For those of you who like local history, join SocialEyes for a guided tour of Haden Hill House museum.

Read our SocialEyes Events Bulletin to get the details of what's coming up.

Active 60

Are you aged over 50 and want to do more activities to keep you active for longer? Statistics show that people who are active in body and mind as they approach their 60s stay healthier and happier for longer.

SVI’s Active 60 group meet once monthly to either go out for a meal or trip or meet at the SVI base for a chat and support. Recent activities have included a narrow boat trip with fish and chips, visit to the Botanical Gardens and an Easter event at the Dartmouth Central Club. Trips coming up include a day out to Bourton-on-the-Water in July and a visit to the RSPB Visitors Centre.

Active 60 members pay for their trips and events which are subsidised from SVI A60 funds. Contact the SVI office to be added to the Active 60 mailing list.

Women’s group

With help from a Healthy Sandwell Micro Grant, SVI started our Women’s group last year. Women meet up monthly at our base at West Bromwich Town Hall to chat, learn from each other and listen to guest speakers who will give them information and support on women’s health and wellbeing matters. Over the last few months, women have found out about cancer screening and how to spot the signs for early diagnosis. Receive skin care and make up tips from Alex of ‘suddenly sightless’ who spoke first hand on how to apply cosmetics correctly despite sight issues. Ladies have also taken part in a mindfulness taster session. Every few months, women choose a ‘treat’ event and recently our ladies have enjoyed a healthy lunch at the Harvester and a gin night at Tivi Ale.

  • Evening Women’s group – meets the first Monday evening of each month from 5pm to 7:30pm at our base at the Town Hall.
  • Daytime Women’s group – meets the third Monday of each month from 11:00am to 1:30pm at our base at the Town Hall.

Note: for special trips and events, dates and times are likely to change and fees are made for some activities and pamper treatments.

Men’s group

SVI have received funding from a Healthy Sandwell Micro Grant for a Men’s group. Sessions take place on the first Monday afternoon of every month at either our base at West Bromwich Town Hall or the Portway Lifestyle Centre - depending on the activities arranged.

Over the last three months, men enjoyed an indoor VI cricket session, walking football as well as our men’s ‘Talk and Support’ sessions.

There is more walking football to come, hopefully to begin in September other ideas for getting and keeping fit in mind and body will be organised, so call SVI to be added to the Men’s group mailing list.

Arts, crafts and music

Some of our members have said they want a music and reminiscence afternoon, so we are holding another of our informal ‘songs of my life’ sessions on Wednesday 14 August from 12:30pm to 2pm at our base at West Bromwich Town Hall. Bring along a CD of your favourite tunes and get ready to share memories of times past but not forgotten.

Touchy Feely Arts and Crafts Project

In September we will be starting this Harry Payne funded programme. With one session a month, we will cover a range of varied arts and crafts techniques, which is sure to bring out the artist in you all. More details coming soon.

Appy Hour

Want to be part of a peer support group that helps each other to get the most out of smart devices like mobile phones and tablets.  Find out more about apps, specialist equipment and mainstream devices like Alexa that can make life so much easier for people living with sight loss.

Appy Hour has two monthly support groups.

  • Apple and Iphone Group ‑ Meets the first Wednesday of each month at our base at West Bromwich Town Hall from 12.30pm to 2pm. 
  • Android and Apple Group ‑ Meets the third Wednesday of each month at our base at West Bromwich Town Hall from 12.30pm to 2pm.

The Appy Hour groups are designed for people of all levels and use peer support ‑ if you are an expert using your mobile device, why not come along and share your knowledge.

Sandwell Talking News ‑ Becoming a Listener

Have you signed up to receive the weekly STN yet?  There are exciting new developments with lots of new ways to listen. 

  • STN USB sticks home postal service.  If you live in Sandwell, you can sign up for our weekly delivery service.  You will get a free ‘boombox’ player which is a special piece of equipment that plays USB sticks and talking books.  Once registered for this service, every week you will receive your STN straight to your letterbox.  If you don’t live in Sandwell but would like to receive this postal option, please contact the SVI office and one of our team will tell you how you can sign up.
  • STN on the web – listen to the latest and back copies of the STN by visiting http://sandwellvisuallyimpaired.org.uk/sandwelltalkingnewspaper.php
  • STN on the phone – which is new to the range of listening platforms is now available, simply call 0330 22 33 452, and choose option 6.  Note: please check with your telephone service provider for any charges that may apply.  If you have a tariff that includes up to 1 hour of free calls, there will be no charge made to you and the clever thing about this service is that it will prompt you to hang up at 59 minutes and when you ring back you can pick up where you left off.
  • STN on Alexa - You can now listen to the STN on your Amazon Echo device too - simply ask Alexa to enable the My Talking Newspaper and follow the instructions on how to receive and operate the skill.

Information and Support

Help at the end of a phone – want to talk to one of our team about something that you need information and/or support to access? Then give us a ring or drop us an email – we can often help you ourselves but if not, we can offer you guidance on who can and make a referral on your behalf if you want us to.

If you have any ideas for things you would like to see SVI doing, please let us know – we can’t promise we can do these straight away, but we do listen to members and try to seek funding to help us to offer the activities and support you want from us.

Please contact the SVI office on 0121 525 4810 or email info@sandwellvisuallyimpaired.org.uk  to book a place on any of the above activities or to  find out more about the work done by SVI.