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Living at Pearey House – Jonathan’s Story

I like that there’s help here if I needed it, but still being able to live completely independently.


Photo of the flats at Pearey House

The Flats at Pearey House

I have lived in Pearey House for just over 6 years now it was February 2017 when I moved in.  I lived in Walker with my family and I have never lived independently before.  I was really unsure because I was thinking would I cope, but I managed quite well, and it made the process of moving out so much easier to move somewhere where I knew there was other visually impaired people, so you’ve got the support of other people in a similar situation.

I had been on the waiting list for a few years to get a flat here and it worked out really well that I got a flat just when I needed it. It was carpeted but you had to bring your own furniture.  The flat is an open plan kitchen and living room, one bathroom and a bedroom.  I don’t really need that much adaptation and the kitchen has a really bright fluorescent light and that helps me quite a lot.

Image of mobile phone displaying "Go ahead I'm listening."But with technology it’s become much easier.  I use my mobile phone camera a lot so that I can zoom in on things.  I can read instructions for cooking and things.  In the past that just wouldn’t have been available, so technology is making a big difference.  It’s getting quite amazing with AI, you can point your phone at something and there’s apps that will tell you what it is.  There’s Seeing AI, there’s one for Apple and a similar thing for Android so even a totally blind person could point the phone around a room it will describe objects in the room.  Fortunately for me I have grown up with technology but for people that are a bit older for some people they just really struggle with it unfortunately.

They have the day centre where they have people from outside come in and as residents we can go across and join in, so I do that on a Tuesday and a Thursday.  Then the rest of the week I try to get out, so me and two other residents go bowling on a Wednesday.  We are in a bowling league, the British Blind Sport Bowling League. They try to do different kind of activities.  They did domino bingo, the dominoes are tactile so if you can’t see the dots you can feel them.  They showed a video and then described it for those who couldn’t really see it.

It’s also a good chance just to have a good chat with people.  Sometimes it could be helping each other out, people often ask me questions about technology and if I know I can help them.  On a Wednesday a volunteer comes in and he helps with technology.  On an afternoon, I go on the treadmill a lot and I do the weights.  That’s really good, having that just here on my doorstep.

Photo of Pearey House and grounds

Pearey House and grounds

Everybody gets on really well.  When it gets a bit warmer everybody sits out and has a chat on an evening which is really good.  It was a really welcoming environment when I came here because pretty much straight away I got talking to people.

During the pandemic I thought, if I hadn’t lived here, how isolating that would have been, but with here you’ve got the grounds so we could still go out.  You had to distance but you could still go out and talk to people.  When the pandemic first happened, every day the staff were coming in to make sure everybody was alright.  They were bringing us meals and helping with the shopping.  I don’t know what I would have done had I not lived here really.

After the pandemic sort of came to an end I was really not that confident in going back out again, I’d spent a lot of time staying in.  Stephen took me out and got me used to just getting out again, we went on the Metro just to get me back to that and that was really helpful.  Because I wasn’t sure about things like, could I distance properly from people?  Or you know sometimes you’ve got to walk on a certain side.  I was thinking, “How am I going to know that?”  So, Stephen just got me used to things like that and that was really helpful.

Recently we went on a trip, there’s a walking group, we walked from St Mary’s lighthouse to the fish quay then we stopped for fish and chips afterwards which is about a 5 or 6 mile walk.  We’ve done a few different walks which has been really good. We’ve been out for meals, sometimes out for breakfast.  We’ve been on shopping trips.  That’s really good to actually go into a shop and have somebody to help find where things are because it would be hard to do on my own.

I really like living here, I like the community, I like that there’s help here if I needed it but still being able to live completely independently.  I like that I’m never really going to be isolated because I can always just come across to the centre during the day if I am not going out anywhere.  I like having my own flat, I am quite happy here.

I think this is a very unique place.  I can’t really think of anywhere similar that is set up for visually impaired.  A lot of people who are visually impaired tend to not live in specialised accommodation, they tend to just live in a flat somewhere, so this is quite a unique place.


Jonathan was interviewed as part of the Pearey House 150th Anniversary Project.

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