I am very proud of Michael McAllister and David Black. They are both registered blind and have successfully completed their Instructor training and exams and now run classes for other blind people – Michael at the Barony St. John Centre in Ardrossan and David at the Forth Valley Sensory Centre in Falkirk.
Since qualifying, they have both featured in newspaper articles, radio shows and TV programmes and helped raise the charity’s (The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety) profile along the way.
Perhaps it’s best that you hear what they both have to say in their own words;
Michael, registered blind
“My name is Michael and I am registered blind. I have recently passed my exam to become a qualified Personal Safety Instructor with The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety. In broad terms, this means I will be able to train others in how to stay safe as well as show them the skills necessary to defend themselves were they to be threatened with physical violence.
Six months ago, prior to my first meeting with Principal Trainer, Alan Bell and his staff, I was an entirely different person. Frightened to walk alone at night and jumping at any perceived threat or raised voice, I walked with a hunched posture, eyes to the ground and listening for any sign of threat. On a social level, I felt limited and emasculated by my disability.
Now, six months on, I find myself standing tall as a qualified instructor, surrounded by colleagues who helped build me up to be the confident person I am today. When I am in public spaces, I move with confidence, safe in the knowledge that were I to be confronted by an aggressor, my training would kick in and I would know when and how to defend myself.
Classes are friendly and informal with participants being taught in small groups or on a one-to-one basis. Instructors are well versed in working with people with a visual impairment and are happy to teach at a pace that suits you, ensuring that you are confident in having learned one skill before moving on to the next.
I cannot recommend The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety highly enough. If you think you would benefit from learning about personal safety, please get in touch with them. They would love to hear from you.”
Michael, despite being visually impaired, went on to create this poster for me, drawing a caricature of himself and how he felt before and after our training. The wording and layout are all his own design with no input from ourselves.
Sharon, Michael’s mum
“My son, Michael, is registered blind and gets around with the aid of a symbol cane. Throughout his life, he has had a severe anxiety of being threatened or attacked when walking outside his home.
When you or I hear shouting or sounds of unrest, we can look around to evaluate the situation. Michael does not have this option and can only imagine the worst.
Six months ago, Michael and I attended a one-day taster course, run by The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety. The class was a preliminary part of their drive to reach out to the visually impaired community in Scotland and teach them about personal safety skills, including self defence. The staff were great with Michael and taught him a few moves. He left that day, brimming with confidence.
Michael has been training with the centre for six months now and has recently passed his exam to become a fully qualified personal safety instructor. In that six months, I saw him grow more confident with every passing week. His self esteem has never been higher and he walks with confidence now, no longer showing signs of anxiety.
This change in him was no more evident than one dark night when he and I were walking the dog and heard aggressive shouting nearby. Explaining to him that what we were hearing was a gang of youths, I was surprised to feel Michael put his arm around mine and guide me in the opposite direction. With a calm voice, he explained that we should choose a different route. No more is he the scared person, asking to return home at the first sign of unrest.
As a mum, I couldn’t be more proud of Michael’s accomplishments and can’t thank The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety enough for the confidence they’ve instilled in him.”
David, Registered Blind
“My name is David and I have been registered blind for nearly twenty years now. As a blind person, like many blind people, I have actually felt unsafe.
When I lost my vision, depression and other things took over and it took me a while to come to terms with it. I was scared to leave the house – all the usual stuff. Getting a job at The Forth Valley Sensory Centre helped me but getting there was a problem because I had to leave the house to get there.
You are taught safe routes and safe ways to get to places but still, unfortunately as a blind person, I have suffered verbal and physical abuse.
So instead of hiding at home and not doing anything, about nine years ago I took up Jujitsu and other martial arts to defend myself but I always had the question “Is this going to help me?” “Am I going to be able to defend myself?” “Is this actually going to hep me as a blind person?”.
Then about a year ago, I got in contact with Alan Bell through the Sensory Centre and he put me through a training course with The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety – and through that course they have taught me safe and easy ways to defend myself as a blind person – as a vulnerable person. My confidence has rocketed. And now I have actually passed an Instructor training course and I am going to be running personal safety courses at the Forth Valley Sensory Centre for other sensory impaired people – both blind and deaf.
I will make something of this opportunity but if it was not for Alan and the training he has given me, I wouldn’t be standing here.”
These guys take my breath away – they truly are awesome.
Here’s some of the press cuttings they have garnered;
I know this is not about the Barony St. John buildings – but I had to tell you about these guys. 🙂