More than six in 10 people who receive support from Blind Veterans UK have reported feeling increasingly isolated after being diagnosed with vision loss, according to new research published by the charity.
Backed by actress Barbara Windsor, the charity, which offers support to veterans of all ages who have experienced sight loss, is calling on veterans affected by vision loss to make contact.
Releasing findings of its Blind Veterans UK Isolation Survey, 61% of the beneficiaries questioned said that before receiving support from the charity, they had become “increasingly isolated” after experiencing sight loss.
More positively, 86% of the 516 veterans who responded said they felt less isolated after receiving support from the charity, while 71% said it had helped increase their independence, and 75% said it had helped them make new friends.
Blind Veterans UK estimates that currently 59,000 blind veterans are eligible for support, but very few access it.
Blind Navy veteran Andrew Hussey, who lost his sight on Christmas Eve 2007, is supported by Blind Veterans UK. He said: “I wholeheartedly agree with the findings of the Blind Veterans UK Isolation Survey. I just wish more vision-impaired veterans knew about the support available and that there is no need to try and cope alone.”
Community services manager of Blind Veterans UK, Fran McSweeney, said: “Blind Veterans UK’s Isolation Survey has provided us with invaluable insight. It is reassuring that once blind veterans start receiving support from us they feel much less isolated.”
She added that the findings have also enabled the charity to further address some of the day-to-day issues that its beneficiaries face. “The research found that only one in seven of our beneficiaries felt able to travel long distances for events and activities, which is why we are looking into reviewing our services to local communities, making our support accessible to all,” she explained.
To learn more about Blind Veterans UK, read OT’s October Key Milestones feature.