The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) has spent 150 years campaigning for change and delivering services to enable people with sight loss to live their lives to the full. The charity’s ‘Need to Talk’ project provides emotional support and confidence building for people affected by sight loss. Richard Craig, who designs and delivers confidence building courses for RNIB sets out below the services on offer and why the project is so important.
A few years back, research undertaken by RNIB showed that people living with sight loss are nearly three times as likely as those with no impairment to report feeling depressed. They are also more likely to report feeling constantly under strain, often losing confidence and believing they are useless. For anyone affected by sight loss, the impact can be devastating; they may be worried about the future and the changes they are facing.
I work as part of a team of counsellors and confidence building staff with extensive experience in supporting people impacted by sight loss. Our services are available to people with sight loss of all ages, including children and young people aged eleven and over. In particular, we aim to reach people who are socially isolated, in emotional distress, including those living in rural locations.
Here in Northern Ireland, the project has three main aspects to it, all of which are free to access.
Our face to face ‘Living with Sight Loss’ courses help people to regain their confidence and independence. They are an opportunity for people to meet and connect with each other. Family and friends are also invited to attend and get involved. The courses comprise a combination of facilitated sessions and relaxed talks, focusing on the different sources of help and support that are available and how to access them. This course is now also available to take online.
We also offer free, confidential, online (email, instant messaging and video conferencing) and telephone counselling delivered by trained counsellors. People can access the support they need via their laptop, tablet or phone, in their own home, in their own way.
Most recently we have introduced a new online course for those working with or supporting people affected by sight loss, including for example: ophthalmologists and optometrists; health and social care staff and public service providers.
Through our ‘Emotional Support Vision Champions’ course, we hope to better equip individuals and organisations to manage the particular challenges of working with people with sight loss.
For further information on the services offered by our Need to Talk team:
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