Suffolk Sight was formed on 1st April 2020 as the result of a merger between West Suffolk Sight and East Suffolk Association for the Blind. A small charity providing services and support for blind and visually impaired people across the county. Their aim is to support people to maintain their independence after being diagnosed with sight loss.
Following a small pilot project, Suffolk Sight will provide a one-to-one telephone counselling service to blind or partially sighted people in Suffolk, using funding from the Suffolk Coronavirus Community Fund. Feedback from the beneficiaries of the pilot project was overwhelmingly positive, and by extending the project, an additional 120 hours of counselling will be offered to those most in need, helping them come to terms with the loss of their sight.
The very nature of our beneficiaries’ conditions makes them vulnerable and, in the majority of cases, isolated. We provide a valued lifeline to help them navigate daily life. We know only too well the impact of sight loss on our beneficiaries’ mental health and see high levels of depression, anxiety, panic attacks and low esteem amongst our membership. Covid-19 and lockdown have intensified an already critical need.
Although we have been making ‘doorstep deliveries’ of equipment, we have been providing mainly telephone-based support to our beneficiaries during the pandemic. When talking to them, it has become increasingly apparent that they are facing a huge challenge, with many being very reluctant to leave their homes, indeed being fearful of the ‘new world’ outside as they perceive it. Many have lost loved ones to coronavirus, while others have seen their support networks vanish. Additionally, there is widespread fear that even once some of the restrictions are lifted, they will not be able to socially-distance or see new signage and instructions because of their sight loss.