Blind Veterans UK calls for NHS healthcare professionals to signpost blind and vision impaired ex-Service men and women to its free services
Blind Veteran UK’s No One Alone campaign is calling for more to be done by 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.
Founded in 1915, Blind Veterans UK has, to date, supported over 35,000 people, by helping them relearn vital life skills and providing them with the tools they need to be independent in their own homes, offering new learning, training, and recreation opportunities.
Those who qualify for the charity’s free support and training are evaluated and their future care is planned. This can range from helping them learn new ways to manage everyday tasks, to introducing them to techniques and technology that can drastically improve their quality of life.
Blind Veterans UK have three dedicated centres in Brighton, Llandudno and Sheffield that provide vital rehabilitation, training and respite care to promote independence and well-being, along with sports facilities. Blind Veterans UK also have a network of qualified welfare staff who support blind veterans across the UK providing rehab and training at home to help them live independently in their own communities.
While the charity currently supports more than 3,900 veterans, independent research commissioned by Blind Veterans UK suggests there are still more than 68,000 veterans in the UK1 who could 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 in National Service, irrespective of when or for how long they served, or what caused their sight loss, whether it is a result of active service, accident, illness or old age. Blind Veterans UK also provide services to carers and family members, whether in the form of information and advice, peer support, or by simply giving them the opportunity to take a break.
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 nearly 99-year long history, however, there are many more blind veterans who need and deserve the charity’s help.
To highlight the issue Blind Veterans UK recently released a report called Living the pledge and held a special parliamentary event in September 2014, to raise awareness of the charity among NHS healthcare professionals, local authorities and MPs in the hope to reach more veterans who are vision impaired, that could be benefiting from its free services and support.
Barry Porter, Blind Veterans UK’s Director of Welfare Services said: “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 call freephone – 0800 389 7979 or go to www.noonealone.org.uk. You can also order copies of the Living the Pledge report and patient information leaflets by emailing [email protected]
1 Centre for Future Studies, September 2012
Source: Blind Veterans UK (formerly St Dunstan’s)