We are pleased to introduce our new volunteer group facilitator Colin Hetherington and invite you to join us for the launch meeting of our new Tyne & Wear local peer support group in collaboration with Northern Alliance VIP's. We are constantly striving to grow our peer support group network and are pleased to announce that we are introducing this new group to cover all of the Tyne & Wear area working alongside Colin's already established Northern Alliance group.
An introduction from Colin and the values of his group:-
Hi my name is Colin Hetherington and I’m the founder of the Northern Alliance VIPs group based in the North East of England. The group was started after I attended a group meeting at the centre for life in Newcastle some 9 years ago. The meeting was hosted by RP Fighting Blindness now known as Retina UK. I had just finished work in my previous life, I had been a manager of a considerable amount of staff and I’d also had a couple of companies of my own. As my condition worsened I found my world falling apart with no one to talk to or turn to, but I found answers with Retina UK.
At the meeting I was eager to find out so much more like how rare is this? Do you know anybody else? Are there jobs? The list goes on and on. I was asked to get up and do a talk which I was totally unprepared for but I did, alongside my first guide dog Jason. I talked about my journey, the shame, the struggles, the heartbreak, only to realise the tears in my eyes were the same as the people in the audience. It was then announced that I would be starting a new peer group, I was stunned I knew nothing about this but my occupational health officer had mentioned this to Retina UK.
I said OK if anyone is interested let’s go for a drink and talk about it. I suddenly found I was not alone and they wanted change too. So a month later the Northern Alliance was born.
We are a different kind of group, when we meet in person we have a bar, we have guest speakers, a raffle, a sing song or a band or even a comedian on the day. The room is filled with like minded people and even their partners too. When we meet it’s a happy day full of facts about science, the benefits of guide dogs, what’s on in the North East, anything and everything but most of all it’s about enjoying yourself without anybody judging you. We really do make friends for life. We also do fundraising for Retina UK because ultimately we all want IRD’s to be dealt with.
So if you would like to join us please do, you are more than welcome!
We hope you can come along to this online launch meeting to hear from Colin and the Northern Alliance VIP’s to find out how we will be working together for future meetings both online and in-person
This meeting will be held online via Zoom.