Following the announcement that the Welsh Government has introduced the highest alert measures in order to protect people during the coronavirus pandemic, leading sight loss charity RNIB Cymru is highlighting the support available to blind and partially sighted people to combat isolation and loneliness over the Christmas period.
The charity is offering a range of telephone and online options to those who might be struggling, including an emergency mental health service, longer-term counselling and telephone groups.
Ongoing research by RNIB has found that the coronavirus pandemic has disproportionately impacted blind and partially sighted people, leading to a sharp rise in social isolation, loss of independence and a drop in overall mental wellbeing.
Carole Morgan-Jones, RNIB Cymru External Affairs Manager, said: “With the tighter coronavirus measures introduced this weekend which will impact everyone in Wales it is understandable that many of us are in need of extra emotional support. For many people, especially those who were already classified as ‘vulnerable’, this has been an overwhelming year.
“We have been working closely with the Welsh blind and partially sighted community during lockdown. Sadly, we discovered that the pandemic has exacerbated their existing challenges and created new ones, too. Many people with sight loss are feeling confused and disheartened and may not know where to turn. That’s why we are offering options for anyone who needs a bit of help and support during this time.”
The charity currently provides:
- An over-the-phone emergency mental health service. The service is available until June 2021 and provides rapid, one-off intervention for anyone experiencing severe anxiety and stress as a result of the pandemic. Callers speak one-on-one with a counsellor to share feelings, find ‘here and now’ coping strategies and explore further support needs.
- A regular counselling and wellbeing service for people in need of longer-term help. Sessions can take place online or over the phone and are completely free of charge.
- Talk and Support telephone groups. Small groups of individuals are matched for general conversations, with trained staff and volunteers facilitating the groups.
- The RNIB Connect Cymru Facebook group is a place to talk to other people with sight loss online. Group members swap helpful advice and words of support.
Carole Morgan-Jones continued: “We want to make sure that no one with sight loss has to suffer on their own. Blind and partially sighted people deserve the same expectation of mental wellbeing as everyone else. That’s why RNIB Cymru will always be here to help.”
For information about RNIB’s counselling and support services, call 0303 123 9999 or email [email protected]. Over the festive period our helpline will be open on the following days::
- Thursday 24 December: 8am-2pm
- Friday 25 to Monday 28 December: Closed
- Tuesday 29 December: 9am-5pm
- Wednesday 30 December: 9am-5pm
- Thursday 31 December: 8am-4pm
- Friday 1 January: Closed
- Saturday 2 January: 9am-1pm