Outlook News

Membership Subscriptions Due

Yes, Lisburn Outlook’s very modest annual membership subscription of £10 per person is now due.  We can take this via the Mydonate facility on our website, by cheque sent to the Secretary’s home address (available on request) or by cash to any of our trustees at any of our events.

Community Support Grant

We are delighted to report that in the new financial year, 2019/20, we shall once again benefit from a Community Support Grant from Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council. This year’s grant is for £1,139, to cover costs such as insurance, publicity materials, travel, training  and tandem maintenance.

We greatly appreciate this partnership with the Council, recognising as it does the role we play in promoting the inclusion of blind and partially sighted people within the community.

RNIB Grant

Did you know that RNIB offer a grant towards technology and equipment? To be eligible you must be registered and receive a means tested benefit.

Items considered suitable for grant aid include:  Computer accessibility software: magnification or combined magnifier reader software, Dolphin Guide and upgrades to these; Computer dictation software (£80 maximum for Windows versions, £125 maximum for Mac versions); Voice recorders and dictaphones (£70 maximum); Portable and TV video magnifiers (£500 maximum); Accessible kitchen equipment including talking microwaves, talking scales and non-slip products; Talking watches, clocks and radios (£70 maximum); Big button or talking landline telephones (£100 maximum), DAISY players, USB players and e-readers (£350 maximum)and Accessible personal assistance and smart home devices (£190 maximum).  For further information and an application form please contact Olive Rodgers on 02890334133.

Annual General Meeting

Lisburn Outlook held its annual meeting on 17th January at the Atlas Centre. Eighteen members and volunteers attended. Margaret Mann stood down as Chair after almost four years, and was thanked for her service. Claire Patience also stood down from the Committee, but both she and Margaret will still be available to help out with activities. The Committee was strengthened by four new members: Barry Toner, John Stephens, Maeve McKeag and Alberta Kenwell. They join Stephen Strong, Paul Rodgers, David Mann, Audrey Kempton, Barbara Irvine, Paul Hendron and Liz Goodman.

At its first meeting of 2019, the new Committee appointed Paul Rodgers to the post of Chair.   We all wish him well.  David Mann and Audrey Kempton remain Secretary and Treasurer respectively.

Donation from Black Santa

Lisburn Outlook was delighted to receive a most generous £550 from the proceeds of the Dean of Belfast’s 2018 Christmas Sit-out.  The cheque was presented by local celebrity Lynda Bryans at the annual Good Samaritan Service in St Anne’s Cathedral on 3rd February, attended by well over a hundred charities.

We are most grateful, not only to the Dean and his staff but also to all the individuals who donated to this annual fund-raising event.  The Cathedral will in fact take donations towards Black Santa any time during the year. You can access their site at:  https://www.belfastcathedral.org/black-santa

New Chair for Lisburn Outlook

At its first meeting of 2019, your new Committee appointed Paul Rodgers to the post of Chair.  He succeeds Margaret Mann, who stood down after almost four years’ service.  We all wish him well.  David Mann and Audrey Kempton remain Secretary and Treasurer respectively.

It’s up to You!

This is your Lisburn Outlook and if there are things you would like to do – visits, courses, events – then do please tell us.  Don’t leave all the thinking to the Committee!

Let us know via lisburnoutlook@gmail.com or by

ringing David on 07766 302496, or by speaking to anyone you meet at an event such as a coffee morning.

Why not walk into the road without looking?

Blind and partially sighted people in Lisburn have been concerned for some years now at the way in which the areas around Market Square and Bow Street have been re-designed.  In many places there are no kerbs at all to show you when you are on the pavement and when you are in the roadway.  In other places, the kerb is a mere 30mm, or just over one inch, virtually impossible for a cane or a guide dog to detect.

We now have one final opportunity to try to rectify this.  Following legal action by Joanna Toner, the High Court ordered Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council to conduct a proper review of the scheme as it impacts on the equality of treatment and opportunity for disabled people.

The Council has now published a draft Equality Impact Assessment, which they would like people to respond to.  While the document can appear extremely daunting, Joanna Toner and David Mann have produced a couple of short documents which summarise the situation and suggest how you might structure your response.

All that is basically needed is a couple of paragraphs saying who you are and what you think of low or non-existent kerbs in relation to your independent mobility or that of blind or partially sighted people close to you.  You don’t need to write an essay!  In fact, we are investigating whether audio submissions might be acceptable.  Any examples of near misses, or occasions when you found yourself in the road before you realised it would be especially helpful.

Joanna or I will be happy to talk all this through with you in layman’s terms, and/or to supply the documents mentioned above in your preferred format.

You can phone David on 07766 302496 or Joanna on 07746 629159.


RNIB Grant

Did you know that RNIB offer a grant towards technology and equipment? To be eligible you must be registered and receive a means tested benefit.

Items considered suitable for grant aid include:  Computer accessibility software: magnification or combined magnifier reader software, Dolphin Guide and upgrades to these; Computer dictation software (£80 maximum for Windows versions, £125 maximum for Mac versions);  Voice recorders and dictaphones (£70 maximum); Portable and TV video magnifiers (£500 maximum); Accessible kitchen equipment including talking microwaves, talking scales and non-slip products; Talking watches, clocks and radios (£70 maximum); Big button or talking landline telephones (£100 maximum), DAISY players, USB players and e-readers (£350 maximum)and Accessible personal assistance and smart home devices (£190 maximum).

For further information and an application form please contact Olive Rodgers on 02890334133.

New Way to Access RNIB Talking Books

There’s now a new and much easier way to read audio books from the RNIB Overdrive service. EasyReader is a free app that you can download to your phone or tablet which is available for both iOS and Android users.

Download EasyReader to your device and then login to the RNIB Overdrive library with your existing credentials (you will only need to do this once). You can then browse the full Talking Book library by ‘your checkouts’, ‘new releases’ and ‘most popular’. Alternatively, you can search for a specific title or author.

Once you’ve chosen a book, you can ‘borrow’ and ‘download’ with a single button. You can even listen to an audio preview, to make sure you’ve chosen wisely. In addition, returning a title is just as simple.

The EasyReader app has been created by leading AT specialists Dolphin Computer Access, so it’s fully accessible and compatible with VoiceOver and TalkBack. The feedback from readers about using EasyReader has been very positive.

Finally, if you also subscribe to RNIB Newsagent, you can use EasyReader to effortlessly read your newspapers and magazines.

Search the app store for ‘Dolphin EasyReader’ or visit  www.yourdolphin.com/easyreaderapp for the download links.

Lisburn Outlook adopted as charity of the Year

We are delighted to report that two local groups have adopted us as their charity of the year for 2018/19:

Harmony Hill Craft Group and the

Brookmount Line Dancing Ranch.

We shall be benefiting from the proceeds of a line dancing social evening held in October 2018, which some of our members enjoyed attending.  One of our tandem pilots, Charlie Hendron, who is closely involved with the club, has also completed a sponsored cycle ride on our behalf around Lough Neagh – a mere hundred miles or so!  We are extremely grateful to all concerned.

How to keep in touch.

The main sources of information on what Lisburn Outlook is doing are our newsletter and our website.  However, we do also try to keep people up to date by sending reminders closer to events. We do this by email, if the Secretary has your email address, and also via Twitter and Facebook.  In addition, the Secretary has been sending out text reminders to members whose mobile number he knows.  However, the group texting app has proved unreliable, and so we have set up a WhatsApp broadcast list instead.  This is different from a chat group, as nobody sees other people’s replies, and it is not possible to work out the phone numbers of other members.  However, this only works if you have WhatsApp on your phone (free to download), and it also only works if you have the Secretary’s phone number in your contacts list so that your phone recognises the message as one you want to receive.

So, please, if you want to receive these updates, get in touch with David on 07766 302496 or via lisburnoutlook@gmail.com.  

Rally Car Driving

For the second year, In July 2018 we paid a return visit to Alltrak near Craigavon to enjoy an afternoon’s driving.  We were able to take rally cars around the circuit, steering and operating the brake and accelerator ourselves, with a courageous instructor sitting beside us ready to grab the wheel or the ejector seat button!  At the close of the visit we were also driven around at speed by the same instructor.  We greatly appreciated the friendliness and patience of the Alltrak team.

Filling Empty Seats

While the politicians refuse to activate the Assembly at Stormont, a group of Lisburn Outlook members sat in their seats in the Assembly Chamber as part of our visit to Parliament Buildings on 19th September 2018.  We were given  a detailed and humorous account of the history of the place.  Although we could not go into the Senate Chamber because of the RHI enquiry, our guide answered all our burning questions.  We were then entertained to tea, coffee and cakes in the Private Dining Room.


iPad Grant Scheme

If you are registered blind or partially sighted, a UK resident and aged between 11 and 25 years you could be eligible for an Apple iPad Air 2 32GB with a protective case.  VICTA and RNIB have come together to reach blind and partially sighted young people with technology that supports independent living.  To find out more please visit the VICTA website http://www.victa.org.uk/grants/or call on 01908 240 831 to find out how you can apply.


Did you Know?

If you’re in a situation where you can’t speak (choking, heart attack, intruder, domestic violence etc ) you can ring 999 and when they answer, press 55 and this tells them you need help but can’t speak and they will despatch police to you!  Worth knowing.



Donations, Grants & Fundraising

Frozen Bones Bikers Donation

In July 2018 Lisburn Outlook received a kind donation of £300 from Dromore based bike club The Frozen Bones Bike Club.  The club held a Black Jacket night and organised a ride to raise the very generous donation.  Many thanks to the Frozen Bones Bike Club members and all those who took part in the activities.

David Mann receives a cheque for £300 from Dromore based Frozen Bones Bike Club – July 2018
Community Grant from LCCC

We are delighted to have been awarded a Community Support Grant of just over £900 from Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council.  This grant, for the year 2018/19, will make a significant contribution to our running costs, and we are very grateful to those who assessed and approved our bid.

Dean’s Appeal Donation

Early in 2018 we received a generous £300 donation from the St. Anne’s Cathedral Dean’s Christmas sit-out.  This is the fourth year running in which this fund, supported by numerous individuals all over Northern Ireland, has made generous donations to our work. 

Thanks to St Joseph’s Bridge Club

Lisburn Outlook is immensely grateful to St Joseph’s Bridge Club in Carryduff for adopting us as their charity of the month during 2017 and donating an amazing £1,000.  This constitutes a huge boost to our funds.  Thank you, too, to Bernie Trail and Margaret Mann for speaking so persuasively on our behalf and securing the Club’s support.

Pedal Power Gears up our Funds

On Friday 13th October 2017 members and friends of Lisburn Outlook raised a massive £1,343 at Tesco’s in Bentrim street. We had two static tandems which many of us pedalled throughout the day with great vigour, even though we didn’t move! Others stood with buckets while a pop-up stand proclaimed who we are and what we do.

Thanks to Tesco’s for allowing us to do this, thanks to everyone who turned up to help, and above all thanks to Paul Rodgers who co-ordinated it all.

David Mann & Paul Rodgers receiving a cheque from Tesco’s customers

Lisburn Outlook Quiz raises £695

What was Belfast’s Royal Avenue called before it became Royal Avenue? Which street in Lisburn is named after a military musician who met an untimely end? If you had been at our quiz, you would know the answers to these questions!

There were 100 questions, 100 answers, and £695 in Outlook’s account afterwards. Our quiz at Lisburn Racquets Club on 4th November 2017 attracted around 70 people and brought in over £700. Even after paying catering expenses we netted £695.10. A huge thank you to Claire Patience for making all the arrangements, as well as to everyone who helped her. Also to our quizmasters George and his late co-host Michael.

Housing Executive

Our funds are better off to the tune of £180 as the result of a coffee morning organised in October 2017 by Deborah Maginness at the Housing Executive, where she works.   Colleagues sampled coffee and (apparently) very yummy cakes and tray bakes donated by staff. Thank you to all concerned.


It Takes Two

Our tandem group featured across BBC Northern Ireland on Monday 13thAugust 2018 Reporter Maria McCann sat in the stoker’s saddle while Maeve instructed her in the pilot’s role.  Meanwhile four tandems cycled along past the scenic backdrop of the Island Centre and the River Lagan.  We featured on BBC Radio Ulster’s “Good Morning Ulster” programme, and on BBC NI television’s Newsline in the evening.  There was also a short feature on the BBC Northern Ireland on-line news pages. 

It took two hours to produce five minutes of radio and TV, but the sun was shining and we all enjoyed it.  Maeve, John and David all got their faces and voices in front of the public!  Several people have been in touch since the broadcasts to express an interest in volunteering as pilots and also as sighted guides more generally.


Didn’t We have a Lovely Day…

…the day we went to Bangor!  In this case, Bangor Co. Down, where a dozen Lisburn Outlook members went for the day on 10thAugust.  The weather was not on our side and we had to make some changes to the original itinerary.  For many the high spot was a late addition to the programme:  a tour of Bangor police station.  This was the first, and probably the last time I shall hold a riot shield or inspect a cell.  As the custody suite is no longer operational, we were all released in time for a meal at the Marine Court.  Many thanks to Bangor residents Joe and David for being our hosts throughout the day and making sure we were well fed and watered.


Audio Described Performances in Belfast

The list below details audio described performances coming up at local theatres between now and June 2019.  For a lot of these shows – particularly in the Grand Opera House, you do need to book well in advance.  Most of the theatres run access schemes where your sighted guide goes free  – so it is worth enquiring about when you book your ticket.                   

Grand Opera House, Belfast, ‘Jack & the Beanstalk’,  Saturday 5th January 2019 – 7.00pm,     

Grand Opera House, Belfast,    ‘The Bodyguard’, Saturday 16th February 2019 – 2.30pm     

Grand Opera House, Belfast, ‘Madagascar Musical’,  Saturday 27th April 2019 – 2.30pm,                

Grand Opera House, Belfast,  ‘Victoria’ – ballet, Saturday 1st June 2019 – 2.30pm

Questions and Answers

What do you call a quiz team made up of Lisburn Outlook members? Simple, you call it “Lisburn Outlook”. Never miss an opportunity to promote the brand.

An 8-strong team took part in a quiz at the Island Centre in Lisburn on 31stMay held to raise funds for the outgoing mayor of Lisburn and Castlereagh’s two chosen charities, Habitat for Humanity and the Corrymeela Community.  We did not win, but we were in the top half and acquitted ourselves well.  Moreover, we enjoyed it.  We hope to field teams in other quizzes in the future, so if you want to join in contact David on 07766 302496 or via Lisburnoutlook@gmail.com.


Dublin Invasion

In the late 8thcentury Vikings first started raiding the Irish coast.  From 840 a.d. they settled there.  On 2ndJune, 2018 a large contingent of Lisburn Outlook members and friends went in search of them, and had a really great day out in the process. We travelled down to Dublin on the Enterprise, enjoying either breakfast or an early drink (or both).  We sampled the Luas tram system and walked up to Dublinia, close to Christchurch Cathedral.  There we had a conducted tour of the Viking Centre and the re-creation of medieval Dublin.  Later we enjoyed an excellent meal and not a little conviviality in a restaurant opposite Connolly Station, from where we invaded the last train home to Lisburn. It beats travelling by longboat any day!


Keeping Your Data Safe

As a result of new data protection legislation, we have had to contact all existing members and volunteers, asking them to re-confirm that they are happy for us to hold personal information such as addresses and phone numbers.

If you haven’t got round to replying yet, please do so as soon as possible, so that we do not have to delete your records.  Equally, if you have slipped through the net and we have failed to ask you, please get in touch.You can do this via lisburnoutlook@gmail.com or by ringing David on 07766 302496. 

We hold personal data in order to run the charity efficiently and effectively.  At the moment, the most information we hold on any one member or volunteer is:  given name; surname; landline number; mobile number; email address; postal address; whether they are visually impaired or sighted; and whether they have paid their subscription in the current or preceding years. In the case of sighted volunteers, we also note in our records whether or not they have gone through a criminal records check.  In the case of tandem pilots, we also have a note of whether they have gone through a cycling proficiency course arranged by us.

We also have contact details (usually just email addresses) of a number of people whose support we value, such as rehabilitation workers or representatives of other charities.

These records are held by the Secretary and the committee member responsible for dispatching the monthly newsletter.  In no circumstances are they passed to non-members or to outside organisations.    They are passed to other members only in a very limited way:  that is to say, email addresses or phone numbers may be passed to someone who is organising a Lisburn Outlook event or activity, for the efficient organisation of that activity.  The event or activity organiser is subject to the same obligations not to misuse information as is the Secretary.

Members and volunteers are entitled to check with the Secretary what information we hold on them, and to have it corrected if necessary.  Equally, the secretary would appreciate it if you let him know whenever you change your email or phone details.


Mayor’s Charity Cycle Event

A number Lisburn Outlook members entered in the recent Mayor’s Charity Cycle event in Lisburn with 6-tandems taking part.  A great day was had by all with both pilots and stokers putting in some hard work.

Congratulations to Brian

Congratulations to Lisburn Outlook member Brian Lenahan from Lurgan who won a silver medal  for Team Ireland in the World Blind tennis championships in Dublin last month. 

Blind Tennis was only introduced into Northern Ireland about eighteen months ago, and the Irish team was up against players from as far afield as Australia and India.

Health and Safety Procedures: A Reminder

In Lisburn Outlook, we all share a responsibility to ourselves and to one another to ensure that we are safe at all times.  The trustees have a particular responsibility to ensure that we have appropriate policies and procedures in place to minimise risk.

Following an incident last summer, we have introduced new requirements for those taking part in our walking and cycling groups.  We have also set out recommendations for everyone attending any of our other events.

From now onwards, everyone taking part in our cycling or walking activities will be required to wear an armband with a compartment containing a sheet of paper with essential information on it.  This will include emergency contact details and key information on any medical conditions which first responders may need to know about.

We are issuing armbands, and have circulated guidance to those concerned on the key facts to be carried.  Wearing the armbands will be mandatory.

In addition to this, we would strongly encourage anyone attending any of our other events to carry key information with them and to keep it somewhere obvious, such as in a coat pocket or handbag.  This should include name, date of birth, whom to contact in an emergency, GP, allergies, whether you have conditions such as asthma, high blood pressure  or diabetes, current medication, whether you carry items such as inhalers or epi-pens.  In the very unlikely event of your suffering an accident or an incident such as a heart attack or stroke, paramedics and other medical staff will need to know this sort of information and you might not be conscious or lucid enough to give it yourself. 

This may seem very gloomy, and of course 99% of the time this information will not be needed.  However, it is far better to err on the side of caution.

Thank you for your co-operation.

Our revised health and safety policy is on this website and this, together with risk assessments for cycling and walking,  is also available on request in the format of your choice.  If you have any questions about any aspect of our health and safety policies, please do not hesitate to get in touch.


Visit to Mayor’s Parlour

The Mayor of Lisburn & Castlereagh , Cllr Tim Morrow hosted a reception for members of the Outlook Group, Lisburn, on 8 March 2018 where he spoke about his civic role within the Council.

8 March 18, Mandatory Credit ©Press Eye/Darren Kidd

Are You Entitled to a Free Home Eye Test?

You may qualify for a free NHS eye test at home if you are unable to visit an optician unaccompanied due to physical or mental disability and are any of the following:
·         aged 60 or over
·         registered blind or partially sighted
·         diagnosed with diabetes or glaucoma
·         considered to be at risk of glaucoma,

  •         aged 40 or over and your mother, father, brother, sister, son or daughter has been diagnosed with glaucoma
    ·         receiving benefit (Income Support, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance or Pension Credit Guarantee Credit)
    ·         entitled to, or named on, a valid NHS tax credit exemption certificate
    ·         on a low income and named on a valid HC2 (full help) or HC3 (partial help) certificate
    ·         eligible for an NHS Complex Lens Voucher

Specsavers are offering this home service and if you think you qualify, you can request a home visit using the web form on https://www.specsavers.co.uk/home-eye-tests or by calling us on 0800 198 1132.


Blue Grass in Omagh

Fourteen Lisburn Outlook members had a great day on 3rd September 2017 at the Ulster American Folk Park near Omagh.  We visited several of the houses, following the rags to riches story of Ulster people who had emigrated to North America in the 18th and 19th centuries.  We were also able to enjoy a variety of country and blue grass music as we wandered around.  The rain largely held off, and who cares about a drop of rain anyway!

Castlewellan Outing

A number of our walkers and cyclists enjoyed the annual day out and barbecue at Castlewellan on 23rd August 2017 organised by our friends in Lurgan. We cycled and walked around the lake and enjoyed the barbecue lunch and musical entertainment provided.  Many thanks to Doreen and her volunteers in Lurgan for organising the event and the sunny weather, and thanks also to our own pilots, especially Hamilton for taking charge of the tandem trailer.

Did you know?

An increasing number of ATMs are now available with speech output, via your standard earphones or headphones?  In Lisburn City Centre alone, Nationwide, Barclays, Halifax and Dansk Bank have them, and others may have too.  It may be a good idea to ask bank staff to show you how to use them initially, but once you are familiar you will be able to get money any time of the day or night, assuming you have any!

The exact series of actions and lists of options will vary from one bank to another, but generally speaking each allows you to listen to a description of the layout of the machine or jump directly to inserting your card and withdrawing your money.  Remember that the speech starts as soon as you have put the earphone jack into the machine, so it is advisable to put the other end in your ear first.  Some of the sneakier models have a volume control beside the headphone socket, so you may have to adjust this before you hear anything.  The more you use a particular bank’s ATM, the more familiar you will become with it and the quicker the whole transaction will take.


Gran Fondo – A Great Success!

Five tandems from Lisburn Outlook took part in the Gran Fondo which took place on Sunday 4th June 2017.  The tandems and accompanying single bike were very popular with the crowds who turned out to watch the event and the media too took a great interest with interviews recorded by both the Belfast Telegraph and BBC.

New pictures added (26 June) – see the photo page of this site.

Link to Belfast Telegraph interview:







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