Coventry Resource Centre Receives £10,000 Grant From WPH

A £10,000 grant from the WPH Charitable Trust to the Coventry Resource Centre for the Blind proves lack of eyesight is no barrier for people looking to improve their IT skills.

The money has been invested in the renovation of the centre’s IT suite, complete with eight new computers installed with specialist software offering speech for those who are totally blind, or large text for those who are partially sighted.

Among those benefiting is a 95-year-old woman writing her life story to pass down to her family, and an academic who is studying 18th Century French theatre.

Tricia Griffiths, Founder and Trustee Manager at the Resource Centre for the Blind, said: “These computers really are a lifeline for many of our 150 centre users and are probably used by about 30 people on a regular basis.

"They come with text to audio facilities, voice recognition and extreme magnification so they really are making a difference to people."

"Many use them for projects, one lady enjoys watching wildlife documentaries on YouTube and some just come in to manage their emails. Such a simple thing like this allows them to keep in touch with loved ones all around the world and the computers fit in nicely with our ongoing aim to ensure our centre users are not isolated."

As part of the project staff at the centre had old cupboards and furniture ripped out to make the room more spacious – accommodating for volunteer mentors as well as service users – and replaced old computers which had been at the Resource Centre since its first opened in 2010.

Centre users range from the age of 16 to 96. Many come to the centre with no prior knowledge of computers, but members of its 54-strong team of volunteers regularly give their time to provide computer tutorials.

Mark Galvin has been using the Resource Centre for five years and today also helps out as a volunteer.

The married father-of-three, who lives in Cheylesmore, developed Stargardt disease, or juvenile macular degeneration, at the age of seven, and since then has had severely impaired eyesight where he cannot see detail.

He said: “I originally came here to look at magnifiers and while I was here someone suggested I take a look at the old computers, but I said I wouldn’t be able to use them as I didn’t know how.

"Nevertheless I signed up to tutorials and today I now mentor others."

"I use them for all different things – from shopping online, to listening to the radio on iPlayer, talking newspapers, YouTube and I even talk to my son in Australia."

"When I first started coming here I hadn’t realised there was such a thing as text-to-audio or even magnification on a screen. But now I couldn’t imagine a world without computers."

Resource Centre members were so delighted with their new facility they invited WPH Trustees back through the doors to see the IT suite for themselves.

David Holt, Chairman of the WPH Charitable Trust, said: “The new IT suite is a perfect example of the type of project we are able to help.

"The computers are helping to make a real difference to a lot of people in Coventry who have problems with their eyesight. Not only helping them in practical everyday tasks such as using email, apply for blue badges or applying for jobs, but actually helping to improve their quality of life by bringing them together with other people or learning more about subjects that are of interest to them."

The WPH Charitable Trust provides funding for individuals, groups and organisations to help prevent, relieve and cure sickness in Coventry and Warwickshire.

It also provides grants for medical research, buildings, equipment and other forms of medical care for residents of the region.

Applications are made via the Trust’s website, and are assessed on a regular quarterly basis. Trustees are actively seeking applications.

For further information, or to make an application, visit the WPH Charitable Trust www.warwickshirehealthcharity.org.uk

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