This week we have a guest blog from Julie McCarthy, Head of Welfare Policy, at Blind Veterans UK. In this post Julie talks about the importance of ensuring people with sight loss are able to access vital support.Being able to live confidently and independently is so important, particularly for those living with severe sight loss. The loss of sight can often leave people isolated and feeling as though they cannot do basic things for themselves around the home or carry on with activities and hobbies that they enjoy. This doesn’t need to be the case.
I’ve been at Blind Veterans UK since the beginning of September, and in that time I’ve already seen how life-changing the support the charity provides can be. Whether it’s training in areas such as mobility, IT and cooking, equipment such as magnifiers and talking watches, emotional support, and rehabilitation, right through to handrails around the home and holidays at one of the charity’s centres, which are in Sheffield, Llandudno and Brighton.
One of the biggest things that veterans find so valuable is the social and recreational opportunities, both close to home and at the centres. With Age UK’s statistic highlighting that more than a million older people say they go for over a month without speaking to a friend, neighbour or family member, events such as lunch clubs and reunions, as well as opportunities for holidays and activity weeks, help to alleviate the isolation felt by so many, encouraging veterans to meet others in a similar situation, share experiences, and learn from one another. We know that meeting other blind veterans is instrumental in helping them realise that there is life beyond sight loss.
We currently support over 6,800 veterans and family members but there are tens of thousands more around the UK who could be eligible for support and don’t realise it. Of those who are receiving our support, almost a quarter battled sight loss for six years or more before finding out about Blind Veterans UK.
That’s why we’re calling for health professionals, social care professionals, families, carers, MPs and organisations to get behind our No One Alone campaign. By signposting and getting in touch with the charity whenever they come across someone who may be eligible for support, we can make sure that no one who served our country has to battle sight loss alone.
It doesn’t matter how or when a veteran may have lost their sight, or when they served, Blind Veterans UK can help. So if you are, or know of, someone who served in the Armed Forces or did National Service and are now battling severe sight loss, please get in touch. Call 0800 389 7979 or visit www.noonealone.org.uk to find out how Blind Veterans UK can help.