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Interview with Yvonne Williams who ran the Newport Social Club for the Blind. Interview carried out by Marion Webber.

This recording discusses Yvonne’s role running the club at Community House.

0 – 3 mins: Yvonne grew up in Maindee and had various jobs in the area. She became involved in voluntary work via GAVO and Age Concern. Yvonne ran ‘Rural Reminiscence’ clubs in Goytre, Abergavenny and Usk. She was then approached to run the blind club at Community House and she “went in, met the people, stood in front of them talking and realised that was it – the other clubs I gave up because I wanted to devote all my time to the blind club.”

3 – 6 mins: Yvonne worked with about eight volunteers running the club. The group was originally 60 members transported to Eaton Road on four buses from different areas within Newport. The blind club was popular and had a waiting list. Originally social workers signposted clients to the club, but social worker roles changed and these clients were no longer directed to the club, “they weren’t social workers for the blind anymore … we lost out a lot on that”.

6 – 9 mins: The club was important to people, some had not ventured out of their homes much previously but “they couldn’t get in quick enough”. The main interest for the group was music “they loved singing, they loved listening to it”. Visitors came to the club to entertain members; ‘the Alcan choir’, ‘Beaufort Road Church choir’, a Caldicot accordion club and pianists. “It was their one day they could meet friends and they were safe”. Many friendships continued outside of the club.

9 – 12 mins: “It was a lovely club and I loved it”. Following two hip replacements Yvonne no longer ran the club. She encouraged members to contact social services if they needed anything “make a nuisance of yourself to make sure you get attention”. “To be deaf is to be able to see danger, to be blind you can’t see danger”. People came to the club with different experiences of blindness. Yvonne also took over the treasurer’s role for the club.

12 – 15 mins: Funds were raised using a ‘produce table’. These funds paid for trips such as Weston every year, which included lunch at a “first class hotel”. Yvonne organised a “big function room” at the hotels and club members could stay after the meal or go out into Weston with volunteers. “All the money for the meals came out of our fundraising”. There was also a second-hand stall, run by Jen, and a fundraising day with a cake stall once a year.

15 – 18 mins: The cake stall was very popular, members would book their cakes before arriving at the club. There was also a gift stall. Yvonne suggests that anyone wanting to run similar clubs needs to have “a love of people”. “You don’t force people to come to a club, they come of their own volition”. People leading such clubs need to make sure that members want to come. For Yvonne, running the club was – “more satisfying than any job I ever had”.

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