How a personal connection inspired me to run the Virgin Money London Marathon for Sense

Smiling woman in pink vest running

Sense is part of my family and always has been. In 1978 my brother Robert was born deaf and blind, and with a heart defect – all because my mum caught rubella at three months pregnant. Rob is older than me, but as I grew up, I remember all the fights and battles my parents faced. But one thing was consistent – that my family always had Sense’s support.

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Scott’s journey towards being a rock star

A boy drummingAs Manager of the Sense Resource Centre in Wakefield, I’ve known Scott, who comes along every week, for over six years. He’s been on an amazing journey since we first met – and the transformation in him has been huge.

When I first came into contact with Scott he had a number of problems. He’d just lost the placement where he was living because of his behaviour, and had also spent time in hospital, where he gained a lot of weight. This really affected his health and self-esteem.

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Now that’s contrast!

People wearing yellow high visibility tops and hard hats walking through a building site
A ‘Hard Hat Days’ tour of the TouchBase Pears site

One of the most important things, if not, the most important for VIs (visually impaired) is contrast.

At one of the recent ‘Hard Hat Day’ site tours for Sense’s TouchBase Pears community hub being built in Birmingham, I shared with visitors how important accessible design is to those who are visually impaired and those who will use the building. I covered contrast, lighting and the realities of being visually impaired and the importance of toilet design.

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Life through a lens: my lifelong love of photography

A framed print with a thick wooden frame, landscape image of a cityscape.
A framed print,  in preparation for his exhibition

Every time I take a photograph I put my heart and soul into my work. I have been fortunate enough to capture some creative people through my career. Meeting the singer Lisa Stansfield was an honour, and to take her portrait was amazing. She is a beautiful woman; really witty and creative.

It was in my teens when my eyesight began to deteriorate, due to having Usher syndrome. This didn’t diminish my love of photography, though – and I’ve been taking and exhibiting my pictures for years.
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#GivingTuesday

Two young boys with their mother and pet cat
This Giving Tuesday we’d like to say a massive thank you to everyone who has supported us throughout the year. Sense supports people who are deafblind, have sensory impairments or complex needs to enjoy more independent lives, and we couldn’t do it without you.

From donating and volunteering, to taking part in an event, here’s a rundown of some of the ways you can help. And if you’d like to do something quickly, you can text SENSE to 70111 to donate £3 (T&Cs).  Thank you.

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My marathon (and half marathon, and 10k…) challenge

Nick Shaw running in the 2016 Virgin Money London Marathon
Nick Shaw running in the 2016 Virgin Money London Marathon

I signed up to run the 2016 London Marathon for Sense in memory of my dad. He was registered blind in his final years, and it had a big impact both on his life and ours.

I wanted to make a difference (and raise some money) by competing in what is probably the ultimate long distance running event. What I didn’t realise at the time, though, was that London was just the start of my challenge.

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Why my job at Sense inspired me to run the Royal Parks Half Marathon

Claire Ireson, Leanne Taylor & Mary-Teresa Rattray from Sense @ Keech
Claire Ireson, Leanne Taylor & Mary-Teresa Rattray

I am 26 years old and live in Hemel Hempstead. I will be running the Royal Parks Half Marathon this weekend (8 October).

I currently work for Sense College @ Keech in Luton. I’m actually Scottish and have recently moved down here in April, I jumped at the opportunity of raising money for them.

My uncle has cerebral palsy and attends Sense Scotland up in Glasgow. I was lucky enough to get a job with Sense as a support worker in Luton.

The reason I chose to run and raise money for Sense is simply because we need the money in order to improve our service. We do so much for our students but there is so much more potential. We could use an extra bus or more sensory equipment. I don’t expect this just to be given to us, therefore I’m willing to put in the work and raise the funds in other ways.

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Being a deafblind university student

A smiling woman stands outside by trees
Ellen Watson

As my first year at university draws to a close it’s time to reflect on my year.

As with everything there have been highs and lows, as I have grappled with the extra barriers that come with being a deafblind student.

I am studying History and Politics at the University of Sheffield. Situated 145 miles from home in the rural countryside, Sheffield seemed daunting at first. But with time, great support and the help of my gorgeous guide dog the past year came to be one of the best of my life. I have made lifelong friends, perfected the art of downing a tequila shot and achieved more than I ever thought I could academically. On the whole it’s been a brilliant experience and I cannot wait to go back in September.

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