Photo © Karren Visser. Sandra’s story connects her love for her job as SVI’s Development Worker and the fun she has with her grandchildren. She reflected on how home and work come together. The standing Buddha sculpture often features in SVI Zoom meetings. In the photomontage, she holds the photograph Karren Visser made for Multistory’s Seeing in Isolation project.
Listen to Sandra’s story
My name is Sandra Troth. I’ve got an eye condition that’s called Retinitis Pigmentosa, or RP for short, and my condition has come on slowly over the years. It was identified when I was about five or six, when I couldn’t see a moving ball when we were playing catch, I couldn’t see the moving ball. My parents took me to the opticians, and they realised that I had got this eye condition which would gradually over time get worse to the point that eventually I would have no sight at all.
My sight was quite good to start with, but it’s gradually deteriorated over the years. Particularly since my 40s really.
I’m the Development Worker with Sandwell Visually Impaired (SVI). My role is to support the organisation to develop and to improve services for blind and visually impaired people in Sandwell.
The Unseen Memories Project is funded from Creative Black Country, and it aims to capture people’s memories, people who’ve grown up with sight loss or acquired sight loss at a fairly young age, teenagers, etc. And it’s to capture their memories and look at the changing picture of how people of all ages have coped with their sight loss. How it’s impacted on their sense of identity and their sense of who they are.
The project came about because we were going out and chatting to people, older people, and sometimes younger people too who had fantastic stories to tell about their life and their times. And we started to think about how people’s life experiences are changed. People who went to special school, people who went to mainstream school. And how people’s opportunities and life chances has changed over the time.
We looked at running a reminiscence project which included a photography and arts feel so we engaged with Karren Visser and Ray Gormley to develop this project.
I love my work. I love what we do. But I also like to play sometimes, and I’ve got two lovely grandchildren, George and Molly, and we do lovely things together. We go to festivals and go to fun events and try to relax and have fun and doing the kind of things that you might not necessarily think that a visually impaired grandma would do.
We’ve done roller coaster and fun fair rides at Carter’s Steam Fair. We’ve done fun in the garden with the bumper car that’s in the garden, and we’ve also had fun at music festivals and days out.
I’m very lucky because both of my grandchildren are fully sighted and although Retinitis Pigmentosa is a condition that is hereditary, there’s no history of it in our family. So, it’s not passed down so far.
© Unseen Memories, produced by Karren Visser and Sandwell Visually Impaired, 2023.