Edinburgh, Scotland, Jan 11, 2021 -- Individuals affected by sight loss, as well as carers, friends and families who have a loved one affected by sight loss, can call 0800 024 8973 to access Sight Scotland’s advice, information and practical and emotional support. The freephone Sight Scotland Family Support Line is open for calls from Monday to Friday, 10am – 12pm and 1pm – 3pm.
This is part of Sight Scotland’s new Family Wellbeing Service, which aims to tackle to this identified gap in support as the charity reaches out to even more people affected by sight loss in Scotland.
Mark O’Donnell, chief executive of Sight Scotland and Sight Scotland Veterans said: "Sight loss has a huge impact on life, not only for the person with visual impairment themselves but also for their loved ones. Our research revealed a need for more advice and support for the whole family to help them cope with the impact of their loved one’s sight loss.
"We are proud to launch the Sight Scotland Family Support Line to address this need for support. Lothian is the first area to benefit from this service, and our ambition is to reach out to even more people affected by sight loss across Scotland in the coming years.
"We hope people with sight loss and their families will reach out to us through our helpline for our expert advice and support.
"Every hour at least one person in Scotland starts to lose their sight, and with the number of people in Scotland with a visual impairment set to increase by 30,000 in the next decade to over 200,000, many more people and their families are set to be impacted by a sight loss diagnosis. We must be here to support them in any way they require."
#co#contaJanette Hope is project manager of The Grassy Riggs in Dalkeith, – a drop-in cafe and outreach service for older people and carers in the community in Midlothian.
Before the pandemic restrictions set in, the drop-in centre also ran various groups for their service users who are primarily aged over 65, including a group for service users with a visual impairment such as age-related macular degeneration.
Janette and her team have been supporting their service users remotely throughout the pandemic, and recently linked up with Sight Scotland’s new Family Wellbeing Service for support for some of their service users who have a visual impairment. She has welcomed the launch of Sight Scotland’s new helpline.
She said: "When accessing services, a lot is done through technology and if you’re visually impaired then these methods may not always be accessible.
"So we found the number of links our service users with visual impairment had tended to be less than other service users.
"We are always looking to signpost people on to services that may be able to help them.
"It’s been great that Community Worker Debbie McGregor from Sight Scotland has been able to support some of our service users already, not just in a practical way but also providing emotional support for coping with sight loss.
"She has been able to have those conversations with them directly over the phone. She’s been able to help two of our service users access specialist items to help them with their sight loss.
"It’s about knowing that there is someone else that you can turn to, and that reduces anxiety. People who come to The Grassy Riggs are introduced to a bigger network of support. It’s about all the services we can help link them into as well.
"For people with a visual impairment, Sight Scotland will also be able to link them into other services that can help. I think the helpline is an excellent idea and very much needed. Especially under all these restrictions, with people feeling more fearful about going out and not being able to, this support being available over the phone is even more important."
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
Published: Tuesday, January 12, 2021
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