Focus Birmingham is a specialist charity providing expert support, advice and information to anyone in the wider Birmingham area affected by sight loss or disability.

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News

Focus Birmingham - A Big Thank You

 

Focus Birmingham has been presented with a cheque for £49,000 after taking part in the charity vote organised by ITV Central's The People's Millions.

Focus Birmingham provides a range of services, including day services for people with sight loss and additional disabilities, residential care and community outreach support.

Focus Birmingham's Chief Executive Tom Harrison said: "Thank you to everyone who voted for us in The People's Millions. We are delighted to announce we are the runner's up, winning the regional bonus award and our project funding of £49,000. Your telephone votes have won us this regional award and we really are grateful."

The Focus Birmingham project, which was chosen after viewers watched a 90 second film on November 26, aims to raise the awareness and highlight the challenges facing people with sight loss and offer practical support.

The short film highlighted how difficult tasks from making a cup of tea to going shopping can be when facing sight loss without the right practical support. The funding will allow us to raise awareness around the challenges faced when losing your sight and highlighting that over 50% of sight loss is due to preventable or treatable causes. There will be four new volunteer-led community projects launched for people with sight loss, their family or carer in Birmingham. The initiatives, called ‘can’t see, can cook’, ‘gym buddies’, ‘shop ‘til you drop’ and ‘access the arts’, will be held at a variety of locations across Birmingham.

Thank you to everyone who voted!

Peoples Millions Thank you

Your support will help to change lives of those individuals living with sight loss in Birmingham.

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Events

Focus on Film Premier Event

Focus film team

This Saturday Focus Birmingham and guests enjoyed a well-received premiere at The MAC in Edgbaston where 2 films made by a group of partially sighted youngsters were shown. A total of 23 young people aged from just 12 to 16, who use services at Focus Birmingham, wrote and starred in the films as well as helped to put them together.

They were screened at the Midlands Arts Centre in Edgbaston in front of an audience that included the Deputy Lady Mayoress of Birmingham Pauline Leddy and ITV Central weather presenter Genelle Aldred.

The Focus Birmingham project was supported by 104 films and funded by Into Film, a new charity born from the legacy of two leading film education charities, FILM CLUB and First Light.

The first film, entitled The Mind's Eye, is a short documentary in which some of the visually impaired youngsters talk about their condition, going to the cinema, and their favourite films. The other production, called Audio Don't-scription, is a scripted comedy about a young person's life being tormented by their film's audio description.

The event also included the screening of a film involving public transport co-ordinator Centro. Called Access All Areas, it was made by 25 students with various disabilities from Walsall College's Deaf Academy and Supported Learning Department to highlight the potential challenges they face when travelling.

Chief Executive Tom Harrison told the audience: "Over the last few years we’ve branched out into working more with children and their families by providing counselling and emotional support and practical help through the distribution of specialist IT equipment and software. Now this year, with the help of Justin Edgar and the marvellous ‘Into Film’ charity, we had the opportunity to inspire young visually impaired people to become film makers. "In a climate where all charities are facing enormous challenges owing to the unprecedented cuts to local government budgets and the consequent slashing of grants and social care contracts, this film project has been a welcome relief. "The positivity and commitment of everyone taking part has created a real buzz about the place and we’re really glad we got involved. "It also amply demonstrates how young people with sight loss can overcome barriers and fulfil their potential given the right encouragement and support."

Genelle Aldred (ITV Central) with Focus CEO Tom Harrison (left) and Wade...

Genelle, who compered the event on Saturday (Dec 13), said she was very impressed by what she had seen. She praised the "fantastic work" of the young film makers and said the quality of the films was "really top-notch", adding: "What you have all achieved has been absolutely fantastic.

Copies of the Focus short films will now be shared with local schools, colleges and community groups to showcase what the young visually impaired youngsters have achieved.

Jamaican entrepreneur Wade Lyn, who brought a taste of the Caribbean to Birmingham by founding Cleone Foods in the city, was also invited to view the films as a supporter of Focus Birmingham. He said: "It's about showing what others can do within the community and encompassing everyone no matter what their disabilities are."

All of the youngsters involved in the project were presented with a certificate bearing the message "Thank you for being a film star".

One of the film makers, 13-year-old Sanaina Majid, from Bordesley Green, said she had helped create some of the sound effects and also held the microphone for the main character in the comedy film. The Saltley School pupil was born with cataracts in both eyes, but recently had lens implants fitted which have improved her vision.

Fellow film-maker Joshua Allwood, 1age 15, from Sutton Coldfield, was helped to edit the comedy film. He said: "It was fun to edit the film and something new to do, which has definitely sparked an interest."

Andrew Miller, optometry lead for the Low Vision Centre at Focus, said it was wonderful seeing the children work as a team to write, film and edit the films. He added: "Film media is not seen as a natural choice for people with a visual impairment, but we feel this project illustrates how empowering and important the creative arts and media can be for all."

Chris Sheriff

Chris Sheriff is running for Focus Birmingham in the London Marathon 2015

Chris is in training for the London Marathon in April 2015 to run for Focus Birmingham.

Chris is grasping the opportunity to raise some much needed money for Focus Birmingham a leading charity for people facing sight loss in his hometown.

This will be the longest distance he has ever run, having only previously done half marathons. Any donations he receives will provide a much needed boost to motivate him on his long training runs during the winter months.

He only hope that the current predictions about the coldest winter in 100 years are wrong!

Please support Chris in his challenge by visiting his page and donating today by clicking here.

If you would like to get involved with Focus Birmingham please contact Jasmin Rana at jasmin@focusbirmingham.org.uk or give her a call 0121 4785239.