People who are blind or partially sighted often find themselves isolated and lonely - excluded from many of the social things that sighted people take for granted. Even in church they may feel left out and find their needs are not adequately addressed. Without sight they cannot read the church news and find it difficult to seek out friends and make new friendships.
It's also good to meet together with those who face the same issues - to share experiences, to find resources and bring encouragement.
This is where Torch Fellowship Groups fill a need. They are not an alternative to church but do provide an opportunity for Christian fellowship - visually impaired and sighted people together - but where vision is not an issue. Most Groups have visually impaired people in leadership; fully involved in planning and running the activities of the Group.
A blind or partially sighted person can feel they really “belong” in a Torch Fellowship Group and find care and support that complements what is available from churches and elsewhere.
Typically a monthly meeting is the main event in a Fellowship Group calendar. The meetings are informal in style and their programme adapted to suit those who belong. Group meetings are supported by song books and other literature in giant print, braille and audio formats. Usually some food and refreshments feature in the meeting!
Many Groups have other activities to suit local needs and interests. Some are able to arrange to visit homes between meetings. Other organise outings and even houseparty style holidays - some at the Torch Holiday and Retreat Centre in scenic Sussex.
Groups are open to all - whatever age - whether or not visually impaired and including those with multiple disabilities - to those who consider themselves Christians and those who don't. For some, the Group represents an unpressured environment in which to explore the Christian faith for themselves - for others the opportunity to express their faith in practical ways and share the love of Jesus with others.
Torch Fellowship Groups depend entirely on volunteer effort: everything from drivers to fetch people to the meeting place, those who prepare and serve refreshments, to those who plan and lead the programme - and those who can simply befriend a lonely visually impaired person. Want to get involved? Contact Torch House to get connected with your nearest Group.
TORCH FELLOWSHIP GROUPS are non-denominational Christian groups. They are locally organised and led by local Christians. They share a commitment to guiding principles set down by the Torch Trust including a basis of faith set out by the Evangelical Alliance. Some 110 Groups meet regularly in the UK and many more abroad.
"To be a part of a Torch Fellowship Group is important to me as it helps me to express my love for Jesus in a practical way to the blind and partially sighted people of our society. By offering friendship and support any barriers of loneliness and isolation are hopefully taken down. We become united in our love for Jesus and each other.” MD, Market Harborough TFG
“When I collected a lady in her nineties from a nursing home she was often 'out of sorts', but on the way home she never stopped smiling and singing. My greatest joy is seeing blind and partially sighted people thoroughly enjoying their afternoon together and then tucking into the sandwiches I have made.” LM Falmouth TFG
Have a look at the leaflet 10 Steps to Launching a New Torch Fellowship Group to find out what is involved.
Torch Fellowship Groups meet regularly at 110 locations right across the UK. Torch Book Groups are starting at a number of locations. To find out the nearest to you and make contact with a local Group leader call Torch House on 01858 438260 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alternatively, have a look at the Torch Fellowship Groups Directory. Find your region in the country then click on the nearest Group for details or use the Post Code finder. The timing and venue for meetings is given along with a local contact name and a contact number and email address.
Contact us also if there isn't one local to you - possibly you could meet with others to explore starting a new Group.
CONTACT US for more information, to receive regular news and prayer pointers, to volunteer your help or make a donation - also, to get free literature for a visually impaired person or to link someone with a local Torch Fellowship Group.