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Charity’s vision for these challenging times

Thursday 18th June, 2020

Charity’s vision for these challenging times

The coronavirus pandemic has created new challenges for blind and partially sighted people, such as how to access treatment and vital low vision aids as well as how to maintain a safe social distance, especially for those who rely on being guided to get around. However, Newham-based charity iSightCornwall continues to help people as it has done for almost 165 years.

Many people have been worried about how their benefits will be affected, as well as many who are feeling lonely or anxious. Others want to try new online platforms to keep in touch with friends and family or listen to new audio books.

iSightCornwall’s aim has been to rise to the challenge and invent new remote ways of working to help people with advice and equipment and to stay safe and feel connected. This has included launching a brand new telephone befriending service. When the Sight Centre in Newham closed due to the pandemic, the charity began pairing people who were feeling lonely and isolated with one of its volunteers who would call them once a week for a friendly chat.

Its specialist Eye Clinic Liaison and low vision services are also being delivered by telephone, so people can continue to access practical and emotional support about their eye condition as well as replacement magnifiers and other low vision aids. And the charity’s online shop remains open, offering aids designed to support people living with sight loss.

The focus now is on reopening the Sight Centre, so changes are underway to ensure safe social distancing throughout the building, including an extended reception area to create more space for clients. The Sight Centre will remain closed while these essential changes are made and there will be further updates in July.

Carole Theobald, chief executive of iSightCornwall said: "We are doing all we can to open The Sight Centre safely as soon as possible. In the meantime staff are continuing to work from home, answering calls daily. This means anyone can call the usual number 01872 261110 to receive the help they need."

Case study

iSightCornwall recently came to the rescue of 90-year-old Doris Rowe from Penryn. Partially-sighted, Doris relies on her iPad to listen to audio books which help keep her entertained and up-to-date but a technical issue meant the device had stopped working. After getting in touch with iSightCornwall, the team contacted a number of manufacturers and companies to try and get it fixed. When they could not offer a solution, a member of the team drove to Doris' home to pick up the iPad and with advice from the charity’s assistive technology adviser was able to get it working again before delivering it back safely to Doris.

Doris said: "iSightCornwall came all the way to my home to help me with my audio books. I felt lost without them, when you haven't got your full sight you rely on these sorts of things, especially in the current situation where you cannot socialise much. Thank you to the team at iSightCornwall, I don't know how I would have managed the rest of lockdown without them!"

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