Herts residents with sight loss offered support during coronavirus pandemic

Social distancing can prove difficult to people with sight loss.

Social distancing can prove difficult to people with sight loss. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

The impact of the coronavirus crisis has had a devastating effect on the lives of the county’s 6,505 blind and partially sighted people, as many rely on guides and public transport to live independently.

The lockdown has left many struggling to purchase food and medicine, especially when taking into account social distancing guidelines, but also struggling with loneliness during self-isolation.

Now the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) is offering support to people affected by sight loss after these momentous changes to their everyday lives.

Harpenden resident David Clarke, the RNIB’s director of services, explained: “The measures to stop to spread of coronavirus are having an unprecedented impact on the way that people with sight loss go about their day-to-day lives. Social distancing and self-isolation are presenting new challenges – with a lot of blind and partially sighted people worried about how they can continue to travel to the shop for essential supplies or find the items they need without the support of a guide.   

“We have scaled up our telephone and online advice service to answer the questions that blind and partially sighted people have right now and are connecting people with local support. It’s very important that anyone affected by sight loss in Hertfordshire knows they are not alone, and we are here to support them.”

The service is providing information on a range of issues affecting people with sight loss during this national health crisis, including: how to access essential items; navigating safely while adhering to social distancing advice; advice on eye health at a time when non-urgent appointments have been cancelled; support to reduce loneliness during self-isolation; information about benefits and financial support.

RNIB Eye Health Liaison Officers (ECLOs), who are normally clinic-based in hospitals, are also on hand over the phone to offer practical advice on living with sight loss and emotional support.

RNIB’s Sight Loss Advice Service is available to anyone concerned on 0303 123 9999 between 8am and 8pm on weekdays, and between 9am and 5pm on Saturdays. Advice is also being updated online via https://www.sightadvicefaq.org.uk/independent-living/Covid-19