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24 April 2020

Hallam students making a positive difference for those with sight loss

Students at Sheffield Hallam have helped a local charity that supports people with sight loss by using knowledge and skills they have developed through their time at university.

Press contact: Greg Mattocks-Evans | g.mattocks-evans@shu.ac.uk

An aerial drone shot of the city campus

The group of digital production students have created videos that will be used to advertise and raise awareness for the Sheffield Royal Society for the Blind (SRSB), a local independent charity that provides opportunity, support, friendship and services to blind and partially signed people in Sheffield and Rotherham.

The videos, which were created before the current lockdown, are available to view on the SRSB website and will be used to showcase the charity on social media and at presentations.

It is the latest project in a long-running partnership between the charity and Sheffield Hallam University's Venture Matrix scheme, which allows students to put their  theory into practice through real life community advancement projects that are then accredited as part of their degree.

The scheme gives students the opportunity to tackle their real life challenges and gain practical work experience, whilst allowing organisations to tap into the specialist skills, knowledge and insight offered by Sheffield Hallam students.

Charmaine Myers, academic lead for the Venture Matrix project, said: "The Venture Matrix scheme facilitates around 4,000 Sheffield Hallam students supporting over 150 local SMEs and voluntary organisations every year. 

"These types of opportunities really give our students a chance to see what value they can bring to the local community. Despite the challenges of Covid-19, we continue to facilitate relationships between students and external organisations, albeit remotely.

"The benefits of social media and the internet has made it much easier for students to complete their work. Many students still have ongoing content with their client and will be delivering their work over Skype or Zoom."

Previous projects with the charity have seen computing students lead a workshop on internet safety and accessibility, and performance students showcase a specially devised piece for clients at the SRSB Mappin Street centre.

Jane Peach, marketing manager at SRSB, said: "We love working with the students because they are very committed. It's so satisfying to see them develop over the time they spend with us. It gives them a chance to make an impact on their local community and we can see that they get a real buzz from that.

"Many of them may not have much awareness of what life is like for people with sight loss before they work with us. One of the real benefits for SRSB is that they take that awareness with them when they finish which will hopefully give them a different perspective when they pursue their careers, and encourage them to think about accessibility in everything they do.

"Our clients love it because they get to meet new people. For some of our clients, who are elderly as well as having sight loss, they can feel very isolated so the students really do brighten up their day."

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