Seven Families' Tracey Clarke: 'It's not just about money'

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Tracey Clarke, the first beneficiary of the Seven Families project, discusses the value of the support she has received.

The Seven Families project has been an incredibly eye-opening experience. The financial support has, of course, been very welcome.

However, it is by no means the only aspect of the scheme that has been valuable. I would argue that it is possibly the least important.

Other facets of the project, for [my husband and I] have included having a case manager, a friendly voice at the end of the phone, a review of medical notes, assistive equipment and training in its use, chiropractic treatments, being linked up with professionals who are willing to help with getting back to earning.

Each of these has been enormously valuable:

• A case manager equates to a central hub for information and guidance; something that simply does not seem to exist otherwise.

• A phone call once a month from our RedArc nurse simply to check on how we are both doing is wonderful. Previous to this, nobody has ever asked my husband how he is feeling about my sight loss and all its ramifications.

• A referral to Best Doctors for a professional review of my case notes and diagnosis has been interesting and reassuring and will, I hope, lead to opportunities to ask poignant questions of a UK consultant specialist when I get to meet one.

• The provision of a Prodigi Tablet Reader has not only reopened the world of magazines to me, but also enables me to read instructions, menus and labels independently.

It will also enhance enjoyment of things such as museums where there is information displayed on boards and plaques. It will be a huge asset for future research projects too, which will be extremely valuable when I come to fulfil my dream of writing wildlife books.

With the Seven Families funding, I was able to purchase my own laptop and install assistive software. This in itself was a huge boon, but the training provided under the scheme to learn to use the software has been simply fantastic.

It means that I can now use my computer without relying on being able to see the screen.

So on bad-eyes-days now, and if my vision continues to deteriorate further in future, I will still be able to get on with emails and social media, as well as writing which is my intended route back into earning.

• A series of Chiropractic treatments for an unrelated problem has helped enormously and enabled me to carry out a 75 mile sponsored walk to raise funds for Guide Dogs.

This is a token of my gratitude for the freedom and independence that has been given to me by the charity in the form of my first guide dog, Oakley.

• Being linked with a couple of professional writers, who are willing to mentor me and help me along the way to becoming a published writer, is the icing on the cake! Experienced guidance on a whole new venture is immeasurably valuable.

The 7Families project has been an absolutely superb adventure and I really hope it launches something positive for others in the future.

Further reading 

Seven Families: Tracey's story

Seven Families announces seventh family

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