Heritage Open Days 9-18 September 2022 - What will you discover?

Sheffield Royal Society for the Blind

An independent charity dedicated to supporting people with sight loss in Sheffield for the past 160 years, Sheffield Royal Society for the Blind was due to celebrate their anniversary in 2020. They planned to open their doors for the festival to share their story and work until the pandemic curtailed plans. Going online instead though has given them accessible new ways to reach people that will be taken forward for the future.

© SRSB - Usually SRSB open their spectacular doors for Heritage Open Days

Jane Peach, Marketing Manager, Sheffield Royal Society for the Blind, South Yorkshire

Why we take part

This year it was focussed on marking our 160th Anniversary and telling stories about our long history with Sheffield. Previously the focus was on engaging with the Sheffield community and making people aware of what we do and how long we have been supporting people with sight loss in Sheffield and also how things have changed over the years.

Taking history online for 2020 / © SRSB

What we did for HODs

We had originally planned to open our centre at the weekend to visitors who may not normally come to our building, to have history information and clients, staff and volunteers present to share stories and information.

Because our centre had to close to drop-in visitors due to Covid-19, we decided to turn our event into an online presentation. HODs were very supportive and provided lots of information which they had adapted to help provide inspiration to participants. This really encouraged us to continue and to think differently. We built a PowerPoint presentation which we shared via a Zoom Meeting on our anniversary, followed by a discussion – the event was 1 hour in total (1/2 hour presentation, 1/2 hour discussion).

This year people zoomed through an online door to discover more! / © SRSB

The difference it's made

Prior to the event, taking part in the Zoom meeting that HODs organised introduced us to some people in the community that we hadn’t met before, and made us see other potential connections.

The actual event made us realise the potential for this kind of event being used more often, in fact we are going to organise another event for those who couldn’t attend on the day and hopefully other similar events.

It helped us to have a feel-good event on our actual anniversary and we had a lovely discussion afterwards. We were able to share the story on social media and make a bit of a fuss for our birthday.

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Favourite moments

  • Being told by clients, one of who has no sight, that they had really enjoyed it (we had taken care to audio describe the presentation as well as having good written information and photos).
  • Hearing about a ghost at the Manchester Road School the ‘School for the Mental and Industrial Training of the Young Blind’, which we had never heard about before and which we can now document in our records.

Jane's Top Tip!

It’s in the planning! Get involved with the event and spend some time thinking what you want to do and how it can work. There’s lots of useful information on the HODs website to help you. It can be a bit of work to organise, but we will be using the presentation that we put together for other things too.

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