I am immensely proud to be a Government key worker
“Walking through the empty streets of central London, down a deserted Oxford Street, then across Hyde Park, now glorious in the Spring sunshine, is a very different experience from taking two crowded tube trains during rush hour.
“I have been helping my clients to do video calls and to access BBC i-player. My clients are delighted that they can now have some sort of contact with their children and grandchildren. The nicest times are when we walk round their beautiful garden square, then sit and feel the sun on our faces. Everything seems more peaceful and less polluted without traffic – there are now several new birds singing.
“After sixteen years working for Deafblind UK, I have gained a new sense of the importance of my role during this enforced lockdown. I feel immensely proud at being able to tell family and friends that I am classed by the government as a key worker, helping some of the most isolated and vulnerable people in the UK.”
Deafblind UK expands support provision for people with sensory loss, including veterans
National charity, Deafblind UK has temporarily extended its helpline opening hours to support people who have sight loss, hearing loss or both, through the COVID-19 crisis.
The helpline is also now available to people who have reduced sight and hearing as a result of, or since, serving in the Armed Forces and to people who are supported by smaller sensory loss charities that may not have such provisions.
Director of Operations, Simone Moore said: “The Coronavirus pandemic is affecting a lot of our members, either emotionally or practically. We have connected people to local support groups who can help them to get food, we have summarised news briefings for people who cannot access that information and we have talked to people who are finding isolation and the increased anxiety all too much to deal with. We have also taught people how to use video calls and accessible technology to keep in touch with their family, which is very rewarding to witness! We know that there are a lot more people out there who are affected by sight and hearing loss, who are facing the same challenges as our members.”
Deafblind UK’s CEO, Lieutenant Colonel Stephen Conway Royal Marines (Retired) said: “Facing the challenges of making the transition from a military career to life outside the Armed Forces can be daunting for many veterans, but when compounded by sight and hearing loss those challenges are even more significant. We have extended our opening hours and upskilled our teams to enable them to give specialist advice to veterans about pensions and compensation schemes as well as offering emotional support to those who need it.”
Deafblind UK’s helpline is now open between 08.00 and 20.00 every day of the week. Trained staff are on hand to support people who have any level of sensory loss, their families and anyone who works with them. They can give practical help, information and advice and offer in-depth emotional support to people who need it.
The helpline can be accessed in the following ways:
Tel: 0800 132320
Text: 07950 008870
Text relay: 18001 then 0800 132320
Facetime: firstname.lastname@example.org (Not BSL)
BSL video relay: https://deafblind.org.uk/bsl/
Deafblind UK celebrates VE Day by launching new services for veterans
National charity Deafblind UK has launched a package of services specifically to support people who have reduced sight and hearing as a result of, or since, serving in the Armed Forces.
The new services are free to access and have been designed for veterans and those who support them. They include specialist information and advice, opportunities for social interaction, help to access financial support and advice for other organisations and community groups that support veterans.
Deafblind UK is a national charity that supports people who have combined sight and hearing loss. It has enforced its commitment to support armed forces personnel by signing the Armed Forces Covenant. The new services for veterans are designed to help people like John, who’s sight and hearing were damaged when he was serving in the Korean War, aged just 21. He said: “A lot of services in our society are just not easy for me to access which is really frustrating… It’s great to have someone to talk to without worrying about going out and about.”
Deafblind UK’s CEO, Lieutenant Colonel Stephen Conway Royal Marines (Retired) said: “Facing the challenges of making the transition from a military career to life outside the Armed Forces can be daunting for many veterans, but when compounded by sight and hearing loss those challenges are even more significant. We are launching our new service, which draws on our unrivalled knowledge and experience of living with sight and hearing loss, to support these veterans and make a real difference to their lives.”
The new package of services has a strong focus on reducing social isolation. Head of National Services, Clare Watson said: “Many of the veterans who we support lost their sight and hearing as a result of their military action. The military has been a huge part of some people’s lives and, our members tell us that they would like to share this with others who have similar experiences. We aim to connect these people to each other, through virtual social groups or our buddying system, and to the wider world, through our digital support service.
“We are also actively working with existing veterans’ support networks, such as social groups, to help them to become as inclusive and accessible as possible to people who are deafblind. Often, this only means making very small changes but it can mean that a veteran who has sight and hearing loss can enjoy the group as much as anyone else.
“We have also upskilled our teams to enable them to give specialist advice about pensions and compensation schemes. We can also support people to complete their applications if sight and hearing loss makes this difficult to do so.”
For more information or to access Deafblind UK’s services for veterans, visit www.deafblind.org.uk/armedforces or call 0800 132320 between 8am and 8pm any day.