A deeply profound thing happened to me when I was a teenager. At an age when image and appearances begin to matter most, I actually stopped judging people on how they looked or what they were wearing. How did this happen? I was born with Retinitis Pigmentosa, a genetic eye condition which resulted in most of my eyesight going by the time I was 18 years old.
Although, I was in no way emotionally prepared for the impact of losing my sight, (how could you ever be?) what I actually gained was a liberating sense of freedom in connecting with people without my innate preconditioned opinions and judgements coming into play based on what I could see. I began to make good friends with people who I would not even have sat next to on a bus before. Allowing me the freedom of getting to know people based on who they are and not on how they are dressed or how they look for example.
Prior to losing my sight I lived an active life (I still do!) and I wanted to continue doing everything I had done previously, but as I could no longer see, I found myself constantly inventing strategies to make my life happen as I definitely did not want to stop living. On my journey I have come across many people who assist me when I need help- for example it might be something simple like finding an item in the shopping isle in the supermarket, or helping me across the road – I wouldn’t be able to judge them on how they looked.
I began to realise quite early that many of my sighted friends would not ask someone for help or strike up a conversation with someone based on what they could see. I felt so liberated not being constrained by my eyes and I’ve met some really interesting and unique people over the years who I may not have previously engaged with.
I really want to provide people with an opportunity to be free from visual preconceptions and be less self conscious of what people think about them. That’s where the idea for my Sensorise events came from really, to provide opportunities for people to socialise without the above constraints.
We do this by using expert blind guardians, some of whom have always been blind and some, who, like me, have lost their sight along the way. The guardians guide the guests into complete darkness and assist throughout the evening. A bit of a role reversal really where sighted people need assistance from non-sighted people.
Once seated in the dark, guests will sit in groups of six and there will be three rounds of surprise cocktails where you will use your senses to try and guess what you’re drinking. Each round will be accompanied by a fun sensory activity in each group and after each round guests will be rotated round the room to meet new people and receive their next surprising cocktail.
Intrigued? Come and join us.