Blind Veterans UK has launched a new campaign, No One Alone, which is calling for NHS healthcare professionals to improve referral pathways to the charity, so that veterans are signposted to support as a matter of course once they are diagnosed with severe sight loss.
Originally founded in 1915, Blind Veterans UK has to date supported over 35,000 people, helping them relearn vital life skills, providing them with the tools they need to be independent in their own homes and offering a number of other learning, training, and recreation opportunities.
Those qualifying for the charity’s free support and training are evaluated and provided with a future care plan. This can range from helping them learn new ways to manage everyday tasks, to introducing them to techniques and technologies that can drastically improve their quality of life.
Blind Veterans UK has three dedicated centres in Brighton, Llandudno and Sheffield that provide vital rehabilitation, training and respite care, together with sports facilities. The charity also has a network of qualified welfare staff supporting blind veterans across the UK, providing rehabilitation and training services at home to help them live independently in their own communities.
Spreading the word
While the charity currently supports more than 3900 veterans, independent research commissioned by Blind Veterans UK suggests there are more than 68,000 further veterans in the UK who could potentially benefit from the charity’s help. The No One Alone campaign seeks to recruit those people who could and should already be receiving help from the charity.
Blind Veterans UK offers its services to all former members of the Armed Services, including those who served National Service. This is irrespective of when or for how long the individual may have served, and regardless of whether their sight loss is the result of active service, accident, illness or old age. Blind Veterans UK can also provide information, advice, peer support and respite services to carers and family members.
The No One Alone campaign has already helped the charity reach a record number of people. In 2013–14, Blind Veterans UK reached the highest number of beneficiaries in its close to 100-year history – but there remain many more blind veterans who are need of the charity’s help.
To highlight the issue, the charity recently produced a report entitled Living the pledge [PDF], and organised a special parliamentary event in September 2014 to raise awareness of the charity among NHS professionals, local authorities and MPs.
According Barry Porter, Blind Veterans UK’s Director of Welfare Services, “The event was crucial in helping us spread the word about Blind Veterans UK’s vital work. We want every health network in the UK to consider what can be done to improve the way ex-military veterans of whatever age are referred to the charity, so that we can ensure every vision impaired veteran gets the support they need and deserve.
“As we approach our centenary year in 2015, we remain committed to our belief that no one who has served our country should battle blindness alone. Learning to live with sight loss can be extremely difficult, making the support available from organisations such as Blind Veterans UK absolutely vital.”
If you know someone who served in the Armed Forces, including National Service, and is now battling severe sight problems, Blind Veterans UK may be able to provide them and their family with a lifetime’s practical and emotional support for free.
For more information, contact 0800 389 7979 or visit www.noonealone.org.uk. Print copies of the Living the Pledge report and the charity’s patient information leaflets can be ordered by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org