We have mobilised a team of staff and volunteers to proactively reach out to all of our 1,000+ members by phone.
Many people living with sight loss, especially older people, can find themselves quite socially isolated during normal times, and we have been very conscious of the effect that the prolonged lockdown and shielding could be having on our members’ mental health and wellbeing.
We prioritised the people on our database who we thought might be most in need – people in the older age brackets, people who we know have multiple health conditions, and people who we know have no family or support network nearby. We asked everyone what they need. We have been supplying specialist equipment by post and have, in certain circumstances, been able to conduct socially distanced visits outside. We have linked people into the amazing work being done by the Community Hub network across the district and to the Council’s Covid-19 response helpline.
We are proud of the fact that we have contacted every single person known to us. Where we didn’t have a phone number, or it was out of date, we have sent letters out, so people know we are here for them. We have extended our befriending provision, so more people have regular contact with a friendly voice. We are a tiny team of 4 part-time staff (less than 2 FTE) and to manage all this remotely, whilst also trying to get funding to keep the charity afloat during such uncertain times, is something to be very proud of.
We have learnt a lot about remote working and supplying services remotely, and this gives us a lot to think about in terms of how we enhance our service delivery for people who are more isolated during normal times. Social distancing will have a very profound impact on the people we serve, so we are thinking about the best ways to support people and raise awareness of the challenges facing people with low vision. We are also very mindful of how much people’s confidence will have been affected due to prolonged lockdown and shielding, and are thinking about how we can work with people to help them feel empowered to get out and about once it is safe to do so.