A Voyage of Discovery in Shoreham-by-Sea
By 4Sight Vision Support volunteer Cyril
One lunch-time in 2004, whilst looking around the office where I was working as a contract manager, I thought if all the permanent staff are off on their usual 3 hour lunch break what on earth am I doing here ? So I resigned by email, fled the building and that was the end of my working career.
After a week at home getting lazier and lazier, my wife suggested I get off my idle backside and did something useful. So, I trotted down to the local Voluntary Services offices in the centre of Shoreham and they suggested 4Sight Vision Support, then known just as ‘4Sight’. As a Glaucoma sufferer for many years, this struck a chord with me and I became a volunteer at the Shoreham 4Sight Vision Support Centre then located in Tarmount Lane in what had been a Police Station in earlier days.
At the time I joined, 4Sight Vision Support was run by 2 wonderful guys Denis Croft and Pat Marshall supported by around a dozen volunteers. I soon discovered they were an inspirational team and began to gain much satisfaction by trying to help those with much worse sight problems than myself.
I soon found that the Adur Talking News (ATN) studio was housed upstairs in the building and run by Ann and Chris Simmons. Having a close working relationship with 4Sight Vision Support, ATN had originally been established as a student project some years earlier. So, I also became an ATN volunteer and found that it used returnable magnetic tape cassettes as the media for around 200 local listeners having sight problems. There were 4 teams each of 4 or 5 readers and I soon became involved on the recording side.
After a few years our World changed. The local town council decided to go for a major redevelopment of our part of the town, so 4Sight Vision Support and ATN had to move out. Needless to say, after causing much disruption to a number of organisations including ourselves, the redevelopment was shelved. The council had, however, relocated us not too far away in the Civic Centre.
Also around this time ATN converted from magnetic tape cassettes to compact disks (CDs) but due to the progress in technology, listener numbers began to decline. However, 4Sight Vision Support remained busy providing much appreciated help both via the resource centre and some of the supporting groups such as Tai Chi and the Culture Vultures.
Then the town council decided to sell off the Civic Centre as a site for housing development. Once again, 4Sight Vision Support and ATN moved, this time to our current location in the Community Centre, where we are very grateful to have Kirstie Thomas as our inspirational and hardworking manager. As for ATN, when listener levels had dropped to 40 per week, we decided it was no longer a viable concern and with much regret closed the service. The reason being, that with so many other sources of news available eg mobile phones, many people no longer needed to wait a week for news on a CD or memory stick.
So, it has been and remains a fascinating and rewarding experience as a volunteer at 4Sight Vision Support and ATN and I’m sure 4Sight Vision Support will continue to provide outstanding help and comfort to the local partially sighted community for many years to come.