Mark Lovatt, Director of Welfare at Blind Veterans UK recently wrote a guest blog for the National Care Forum. In it, he explains why signposting is so vital and describes their No One Alone campaign:
Signposting people to specialist support is vital when dealing with people with sight loss. It’s something that all too often robs people of their independence and their confidence, leaving many people feeling isolated and alone. This should not be the case.
Currently, it is estimated that there are currently over 59,000 veterans in the UK battling severe sight loss, most of whom don’t realise they are eligible for support from Blind Veterans UK.
We are the national charity for blind and vision impaired ex-service men and women, providing vital practical and emotional support. Through the charity’s three centres and network of welfare officers, the charity ensures that every veteran is supported to discover life beyond sight loss and live a full, independent life.
With so many veterans still battling sight loss without vital support, we need your help. We need health and social care professionals to be asking every blind and vision impaired person they work with, or care for, if they have ever served in the Armed Forces, or done National Service. If they did, refer them to Blind Veterans UK. Making that referral can be life changing. It can mean the difference between someone battling severe sight loss alone, feeling unable to do anything for themselves and someone feeling able to live life to the full, confidently and independently.
Many of the veterans we support go on to do some amazing things – we’ve got veterans who have run marathons, abseiled down buildings, set up their own businesses, you name it. One thing they all say is that the support of Blind Veterans UK gave them the confidence to achieve these fantastic things.
The things a sighted person would take for granted, things such as making a cup of tea for themselves, or being able to pick out clothes in the morning, are just some of the things that a person with sight loss can feel they are unable to do. But with Blind Veterans UK’s help, the equipment and emotional support available and the training we offer, these things can become second nature again.
Over 61% of the veterans currently supported by Blind Veterans UK suffer with age-related macular degeneration and 87% of our veterans are over the age of 75. Those aged 75 and over are likely to have done National Service, or have served in the Second World War, and through our No One Alone campaign we want to make sure that we’re reaching each and every one of these veterans, so that no one, who has served our country, has to battle blindness alone.
Our No One Alone campaign was launched in October 2012 and has been successful in helping more and more veterans get the support they need to help adjust to life with sight loss. Since the campaign began, we have seen a 25% increase in the number of veterans contacting us for support and in 2015, we began supporting 854 new veterans, the largest number of new beneficiaries we’ve had in our 100 year history!
Over 4000 veterans are currently accessing Blind Veterans UK’s support. This means that there are still over 50,000 veterans who are unnecessarily missing out on support. We need this to change. If you or your team work with people with sight loss, please ask if they have a service history. If they do, refer them to Blind Veterans UK.
Director of Welfare
Blind Veterans UK