Loneliness can affect anyone at any time in their lives, and those dealing with sight loss can often experience feelings of isolation if their visual impairment prevents them from going out to meet others. Leaving the house independently for some can bring its challenges, so it’s important to have inclusive opportunities to meet with others.
Shalini, an Outreach Officer for Croydon Vision, is visually impaired herself and understands the challenges those with visual impairments face. Shalini had noticed that the challenges of navigating around the kitchen can sometimes lead to those with sight loss relying on convenience foods, which are not always healthy.
In a bid to support people to gain confidence in the kitchen and improve their health and wellbeing, Shalini and colleagues set up “Cooking with Shalini”, a weekly session where attendees learn to cook healthy cuisines from around the world, with the support of accessible kitchen appliances. Understanding some people may struggle to make their own way to the session, Croydon Vision also offer a free door-to-door transport service that picks up those unable to make their own way.
Meeting every Monday and Wednesday, attendees are invited to take part in the hands on session, learn new techniques and explore healthy eating in their own time. Once the cooking is finished, there’s time to sit back and socialise with others.
“Even though I had sight problems as a child, my mum got me involved in cooking from a young age. I have a real passion for cooking now, and I want people with visual impairments to know they can do it too!”Shalini O’Kane, Croydon Vision Outreach Worker
2023 marks Croydon Vision’s 100th birthday. Their centennial year creates a brilliant opportunity to reflect on some of the ways the charity is continuing to transform lives and encourage people to re-evaluate what’s possible when they’re blind or partially sighted. Mike, works for the local authority and lost his sight later in life. Living alone he used to struggle with the basics of cooking independently, but the classes have been helping him to prepare healthy dishes. Shalini has also been able to support him to order his groceries online, making shopping and food preparation more convenient.
As with Croydon Visions other services, the cooking group works to empower blind and partially sighted people as well as signposting to other social, physical and creative services. The group is made up of people with different levels of visual impairment and many different eye conditions. Many members don’t know each other until they join the group, but are quick to form friendships and enjoy the session together.
Join ‘Cooking with Shalini’
Date: Mondays 1 to 3pm and Wednesdays 10am to 12pm