Welcome to our Christmas newsletter I hope you find it both interesting and informative. This is your newsletter and therefore as always we welcome your ideas and suggestions. I have now been in my new position for 3 months, spending the majority of this time getting to know the diverse range of services provided by Galloway's.
It has certainly been a busy 3 months beginning with the highly successful Guild week, then visiting our sites in Morecambe, Southport and Chorley, attending the National Talking Newspaper Conference and the national conference for Local Societies, being part of Galloway's highly successful Autumn Ball and meeting lots of new and familiar people to name but a few highlights.
My initial time at Galloway's has provided me with the opportunity to meet many people who use our services. However I will be planning visits to each site to spend time with the various activities provided by Galloway's which will give me an opportunity to talk and more importantly listen to people who use our services. I am confident that the New Year will bring new and exciting opportunities which will enable Galloway's to reach out to even more blind and partially sighted people. I would like to take this opportunity to 'Thank You' for your support in 2012, ask you to continue your support in 2013 and to wish you and your loved ones a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy 2013.
All Galloway's Offices will close for Christmas at 1.00pm on Monday 24th December and will reopen at 9am on Wednesday 2nd January. Final Talking Newspapers for 2012 will be sent out on Friday 21st December. If we produced them any later, we would then be unable to get enough memory sticks back to operate the service fully. Production will start again on Friday 4th January.
Sight Advice Centre - Opening Times
Galloway's main Sight Advice Centre at Howick House is open Tuesday to Friday each weekday between 10am and 2pm. Equipment is also available at our Sight Advice Centre's in Morecambe, Chorley and Southport are also open to provide specialist advice and guidance but their opening times do vary. Therefore it is always helpful if you can ring to arrange an appointment, so that our specialist staff can be available to offer you time to try out the equipment and provide advice. Please ring to make an appointment. Details for all our offices are given at the back of this newsletter.
What Can you See
Enclosed with your newsletter is a leaflet from Humanware who have a number of product promotions. Please feel free to get in touch and they can make arrangements to visit you at home to demonstrate the equipment.
We have been asked to advertise a 2 year old Enhanced Vision Acrobat Electronic Reader including a working table for £800. When new this would have cost almost £2,000. We also have access to a number of Merlin Electronic Readers costing £600 (normally £1,500 upwards), including a full one year warranty. For further details on these and other offers, please get in touch with Linda at our Penwortham Sight Advice Centre.
In the Autumn Newsletter we included an article about our will making service and legacy giving. We have received very positive feedback and a number of enquiries about this service. If you would like further help or information please contact Peter Taylor on 01772 744148. Should you wish to leave a legacy to Galloway's and would like further information please contact Peter at Howick House on 01772 744148. Peter is also willing to visit you to discuss matters in your own home, you are under no obligation and all information is treated in the strictest confidence.
2012 saw many and varied activities, holidays and day trips including Chester and the ever popular trips to the horses at Haydock Park. Super holidays to Llandudno, Scotland and Tenerife were among the highlights.
Our packed outdoor pursuits programme included two exciting driving days, a week in the Lake District with Climbing, Ghyl scrambling and canoeing.
Adult Education courses ranged from felt making, microwave cooking, gardening, local history and our popular residential Open Doors have included topics ranging from the History of Alston Hall, Port Sunlight and Festive creations.
Thank you to everyone who has supported us over the year in all our activities and at present we are working on holidays, varied activities and further Adult Education courses for 2013. Have a great festive holiday, look forward to seeing you all again in 2013.
Please get in touch if you would like further details regarding any of Galloway's activities.
Council Tax Support
The Welfare Reform Bill heralds the biggest change in the history of welfare benefits. Most of the existing means tested benefits will be rolled into one called Universal Credit, but Council Tax Benefit will disappear from 1 April 2013. In its place will come Council Tax Support, and it will be up to local authorities to decide who will get it and for what. Local authorities have been told by the government that they will get at least 10% less funding to meet the cost than currently being put into the Council Tax Benefit scheme. How will they cope with the cut and what can you do about it?
At the moment, help to pay council tax is in the form of council tax benefit, discounts and reductions. In other words, as well as there being council tax benefit it is possible to pay less council tax if you are for example a single occupant, or have a live in carer , or have a room set aside for the use of a disabled person, or if your home is unoccupied. In order to cope with the government funding cut, it is likely that local authorities will have to look at making savings across the all of the council tax help scheme. The alternative is massive reduction in the amount of benefit paid to those who can least afford it. Council's across the country don't want to do this, so have now started to contact people in their area who are liable for council tax to seek their views on how the savings can be made. By 31 January 2013 they must have the Council Tax Support plan in place.
Over the next couple of months councils across the country will be sending out surveys and may even be holding public meetings on this issue. It is vital that we make our voices heard. For further help and advice contact your local council, welfare rights team or Kevin Nuttall, Action for Blind Peoples' Welfare Rights Officer on (01772) 320550.
As part of Galloway's you are able to hire rooms at our various premises for half the usual rate. Bookings from members have recently included Birthday Celebrations, Retirements, Golden Wedding Anniversaries, and Christening Receptions. Call us for further details.
"Southport Thanks" and Dates for your Diary
Thanks to all who supported our recent Christmas Coffee Morning which raised a super £443-00.Our equipment display has now been reorganised and is accessible on ground floor level and we now have over a thousand talking book titles for loan.
Our craft group starts again on Friday 11th January 2013 and runs every two weeks up to Friday 22 March 2013. Computer Training is available Monday's and Wednesday's.
An advance date for your diary is Saturday 16th March 2013 and our Easter coffee morning between 10am and 12 Noon with Easter cards made by our craft group on sale along with cakes and an Easter raffle.
Adrian and Carl would like to thank everyone for all their support throughout the year.
Congratulations to Peter Boulton whose latest adventure on behalf of Galloway's was to climb Mt Kilimanjaro in September. This was Peter's fourth International Challenge undertaken on our behalf raising more than £25,000 - a remarkable achievement for which we are truly grateful.
Looking forward to Christmas, we shall once again be in St George's Shopping Centre, Preston, helping Santa in his Grotto and providing a gift wrapping service. Please call in to say 'hello' and get your present wrapped (you might even be photographed with Santa!). We also have a number of collections arranged throughout December, so if you or someone you know can spare a couple of hours to help with collecting or gift wrapping, please give us a call on 01772 744148.
For the adventurous, we've organised a parachute jump, which will take place on Sunday 21st April 2013. Skydiving is always exciting, so why not give the ultimate Christmas gift to the thrill seekers in your family?
Our Jewellery Recycling boxes will be collected soon. Please let us have your unwanted gold, silver, jewellery, watches, foreign and UK coins and notes. We'll even take your mobile phones. If you can't get to one of the centres, please give us a call and we'll send you a FREEPOST envelope. Remember - you'll be helping Galloway's and the environment.
Finally - a very big thank you to everyone who has helped with our fundraising efforts throughout 2012. We hope that you have a wonderful Christmas and look forward to seeing you again in 2013.
It is at this time of year that we reflect on the many successes of the charity and the many blind and partially sighted people we have supported over the past year. We are very aware of the difficult times we are all living in, which is why we appreciate your generous donations and support over the last 12 months. 'Thank you', We'd like to take this opportunity to thank you for your help and support during the past year.