When someone loses their sight, it is vital that they are signposted to specialist support to ensure they are able to adjust and overcome the challenges of blindness. Currently in the UK, tens of thousands of ex-Service men and women are battling severe sight loss and could be eligible for help and support from Blind Veterans UK, but they don’t realise it.
Blind Veterans UK has been providing vital sight services and support to veterans with vision impairment for 100 years. The charity has three centres in Brighton, Sheffield and Llandudno, North Wales, as well as a network of welfare officers around the UK, providing rehabilitation, equipment, training and emotional support to help veterans adjust to life with sight loss, regardless of when or how they lost their sight.
The effects of sight loss can be devastating and can often leave people feeling unable to do many of the things they used to enjoy. As well as helping veterans to regain the independence and confidence that is so often lost when someone loses their sight, through vital training in areas such as independent living, mobility and cooking skills, Blind Veterans UK also provides veterans with the opportunity to take part in recreational activities, helping them to discover new hobbies, revisit old one and meet other people in a similar situation.
When Royal Navy and SAS veteran William Turner developed glaucoma, which robbed him of his sight, he found it hard to adjust. But, after a friend told him about the Blind Veterans UK, he got in touch to request support. As well as helping him to adjust to life with sight loss through equipment and training, William has also been able to discover a new love – painting. Despite having not painted since school, the staff at the charity’s Llandudno centre encouraged him to pick up a paintbrush, and he hasn’t looked back since.
William says: “The art bug has definitely bitten, I have carried my easel up the Malvern Hills just to sit there and paint and I often find myself getting carried away and painting on A4 paper into the early hours of the morning.
“Seeking Blind Veterans UK’s support has been the best thing that could have happened to me. The Llandudno centre staff are very positive and friendly and their can-do attitude is infectious.”
Blind Veterans UK’s No One Alone campaign is reaching out to the tens of thousands of veterans in the UK now battling severe sight loss, but don’t currently realise the support available. It doesn’t matter when or how a veteran lost their sight, or when they served, Blind Veterans UK can help.
If you work with, or know of, an Armed Forces or National Service veteran who is now battling severe sight loss, refer them to Blind Veterans UK for free, lifelong support by calling 0800 389 7979 or visiting www.noonealone.org.uk.