Calendar of events

Friday 15 March 2019 - SVI Open Meeting

Time: 2pm to 4.30pm

Venue: West Bromwich Town Hall, off Lodge Road, West Bromwich B70 8DY.

We warmly invite you to join us for our March Open Meeting, which is an opportunity to find out about what’s happening locally and nationally for visually impaired people, hear about SVI’s new programmes and give us your feedback. Find out more about the March Open Meeting.

Monday 18 March - Borrowbox taster session

At: Central Library, West Bromwich

On: Monday 18 March from 2.00pm-3.30pm

SVI has been working with Sandwell Library Service and we are delighted to tell you about a new and exciting way of listening to audio books. Find out more about the Borrowbox session.

SVI activities and events for January to March 2019

Here are some of our regular and one-off activities and events we have planned for the first three months of the New Year. Listen to this information now using our playlist file (m3u)

Tone up Tuesday and Thursday gym sessions

There’s never been a better time of year than now to get or keep fitter. Why not join 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.  Two sessions are timetabled at Portway – 9.30am to 10.15am and 12.15pm to 1.00pm
  • 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 10.30am for a 45 minute class (subject to availability)
  • 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)

Fitness Yoga

Portway deliver a fully inclusive yoga class on Monday afternoons from 12.15pm to 1.00pm 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%.

Look out for more activities coming soon at the Portway Lifestyle Centre. 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 it's 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.

Here to help listening support

Need to talk to someone who is a qualified counsellor and can listen and support you through a difficult time. Then contact SVI to find out more about one-to-one sessions and group work.

Sandwell Talking News (STN)

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
  • 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.

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: NHS talking about services at your GP’s and walk in centres’, LEAP offering home insulation services, Trading Standards, the Police, West Midlands Fire Service and many more.

There is usually someone from the Sensory Service Team too to talk to you about help you might need to live more independently and get around more confidently.  

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, trip or meet at the SVI base for a chat and other fun things like quizzes, themed events and more.  Active 60 members pay for their trips and events which are subsidised from SVI A60 funds. 

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 IPhone group- Meets the first Wednesday of each month at our base at West Bromwich Town Hall from 12.30pm to 2pm. 
  • Android group with Apple iPhone too - Meets the third Wednesday of each month at our base at West Bromwich Town Hall from 12.30pm to 2pm.

Women’s group

With help from a Healthy Sandwell Micro Grant, SVI started our Women’s Group last year.  Women meet up monthly 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.  Women also have a chance to book a manicure, facial and massage to name but a few of our pamper sessions that have taken place at our base at West Bromwich Town Hall.  Every few months, women choose a ‘treat’ event and recently they have enjoyed afternoon tea at Jonathan’s in the Park and a supported shopping trip to Merry Hill.  There is both an afternoon and evening group with times and dates as follows:     

  • 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 11am to 1.30pm, at our base at the Town Hall.

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

Men’s group

SVI have now received funding from a Healthy Sandwell Microgrant for a men’s group.  The initial meeting of this group will take place at SVI’s base at West Bromwich Town Hall on the first Monday of the month between 2pm and 3.30pm.


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.

You can find out what we've got coming up on our new SocialEyes Events Bulletin.

Arts and crafts sessions

Following the great success of our recent arts and crafts sessions, we are looking at holding a monthly arts and crafts group – if you would like to be part of this group and get to hear what sessions are coming up, please call the office to have your name put on the circulation list.    

March Open Meeting 15 March

The SVI members March open meeting will be taking place at West Bromwich Town Hall from 2pm to 4.30pm on Friday 15 March 2019, so book the date in your diary, more details will be sent to you nearer to the time.   

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.

Information and Support

Information and support 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 deal with your queries ourselves but if not, we can offer you guidance on who is the best person/service to assist and can then make a referral on your behalf if you want us to.

We look forward to catching up with you at one of the above events. Please give the office a ring for more information.