The lower South Island has been buzzing with activity, following the rise of recreation initiatives this year.

Social coffee group

2016 has seen a social coffee group start up in Alexandra with clients attending, along with keen volunteers/drivers. The group meet on the last Tuesday of the month for coffee and a catch up. Each month they decide on the café for the next catch up.

Recreation Volunteer Coordinators, Anne Marie Hope-Cross and Chris Moffitt take turns to support the group. They often bring items of interest, information and equipment that promote robust discussion and talking points at the catch ups. Everyone loves getting together and look forward to each month.

Alexandra coffee group
Group photo above  of the social coffee group in Alexandra.

South Otago walking group

The first South Otago walking group has kicked off, thanks to the generous support from surrounding communities.

The idea has been developed over a few months, but there was a challenge with regular volunteers and crucial funding needed for safety gear.

A few months ago the South Otago Community Committee applied for funding to help with the purchase of walking poles, locator beacons, first aid kits and high visibility gear to ensure the safety of the group.

After part funding for the gear was approved, the group received a generous donation of proceeds from a local quiz night run by the South Otago Town and Country Club.

Support continued to roll in with several supporters from the Balclutha community volunteering to accompany the group on regular walks.

Currently, there are five regular walkers and five volunteers. We look to increase this number as community support continues and more people hear about the group.

South Otago walking group

Pictured above: The South Island walking group before they head off on a walk

Getting creative in Dunedin

The Dunedin craft group has really taken off this year, producing moccasins, cane baskets, scarves and wheat bags.

With a collection of weaving looms available at our Dunedin branch, we were approached by the local Tairei Spinners and Weavers group. They offered us a four-week tuition session on using our weaving looms. We accepted the generous offer with pleasure and now weaving has taken over, especially for the women in the group!

Now they know how to use the looms, they are producing scarves, towels, flannels and various other items for themselves. The Tairei Spinners and Weavers have been supporting the group all year. They drop in occasionally to check up on progress, thread the looms and offer advice. The plan going forward is to showcase these crafts at the local South Dunedin market in 2017. This market is also run by one of the craft group members.

Craft group member weaving a basket
Photo of a craft group member weaving a basket.

Along with the weaving, the men in the group have been busy working away making moccasins. These are made mainly from sheepskin, with a volunteer cutting the templates out for our members to lace together with ribbon. There are three totally blind clients stitching up the moccasins and one on a loom weaving up all sorts of creations. All are producing fantastically crafted and highly practical items.

If weaving and making moccasins weren’t enough you will also find the group sewing and filling wheat bags. Making most of a large donation of wheat, the group make the bags by cutting material and sewing it together. Along with the donation of natural cane, the group is very much looking forward to 2017. The craft group can’t wait get out to the South Dunedin market and showcase their products to the general public and raise people’s awareness of the Blind Foundation and the skills our client’s possess.

Creations from the Dunedin craft group
Photo above of craft group creations.

If you are interested in any of the recreation activities mentioned above or would like more information, please visit the events section of the Blind Foundation website. Alternatively, you can contact Anne Marie Hope-Cross or Chris Moffitt by phoning 0800 24 33 33.