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Boost for people living with impaired hearing and sight loss

A drop-in session in Whithorn

PEOPLE living with sight and hearing loss in Wigtownshire have welcomed the news that a local charity has received a £9,500 funding boost from the Kilgallioch Community Benefit Fund and Foundation Scotland to continue to develop support services across the region. Visibility Scotland has been helping people living with sensory loss for over 160 years and will use the money to continue and grow our community-base drop-ins services, or ‘hubs', across Wigtownshire over the next 18 months. It will also provide dedicated one-to-one support to those with sensory loss, with a strong focus on those who are unable to leave their homes due to their condition. Visibility Scotland has worked with hundreds of people across the region, demonstrating and loaning assistive technology, facilitating two monthly peer support groups across Wigtownshire and offering support at home to those struggling to come to terms with their diagnosis. Lindsay McDowall, Head of Service for Visibility in Dumfries & Galloway, added: “The news of this funding couldn't have come at a better time. Fundraising has come to a standstill recently, which puts third sector organisations under a lot of financial pressure. This is the second year that the Kilgallioch Community Benefit Fund and Foundation Scotland have awarded us funding for our work in Wigtownshire, and it will enable us to build on our existing services for people with vision and hearing impairments across the region and build connections within communities when normal service resumes. “Last year, we established local drop-ins, or hubs, in Stranraer, Newton Stewart, Port William and Whithorn thanks to this funding where people will be able to speak with staff and sensory inspirers to get advice on the latest equipment and technology, get emotional support, practical advice or chat with someone who has the same lived experience and has overcame the challenges and obstacles presented by their sight or hearing impairment. “We were pleasantly surprised that the turnout in the smaller towns was on a par, and in some instances exceeded, the larger populations centres of Stranraer and Newton Stewart. So we're really thinking about visiting other villages and communities in Wigtownshire that may not get a lot of services on their doorstep, and we're open to suggestions on where the residents of Wigtownshire think we should stop by next. Lindsay added: “The aim is that people leave feeling better informed and connected to their communities, tackling loneliness and isolation.” Visibility Scotland has 20 volunteer “sensory inspirers” across Dumfries & Galloway who themselves have a sensory impairment. They have been helping staff to deliver training and talks to community groups and organisations, as well as shadowing home visits and offering their personal insight into what can help. Their involvement will be pivotal to the new services. Charlotte Bennie, from Newton Stewart, said: “I was delighted to hear Visibility Scotland has received funding for the second-year running. This is great news for the people of Wigtownshire. My guide dog Christie and I attended all of the HUBs across 2019 in Stranraer, Port William, Whithorn and Newton Stewart. Having been registered blind for nearly two decades, I've got lots of experience and advice to pass along and share. It was great to meet lots of new people and, being a retired teacher from Wigtownshire, catch up with some who I'd known from years ago, or taught a relative of theirs. “The current corona crisis has highlighted it is so essential to be able to access information on line. This is a skill which can be learned at the Visibility hubs. “Visual impairment makes a person isolated; getting out of the house is just so difficult; others find the condition difficult to understand. So this funding is a godsend!” Lindsay added: “We have been blown away by the willingness and eagerness of people we're working with to get involved and share their experiences and knowledge. Who better to advise someone on how to overcome the challenges presented by losing their sight or hearing than someone who has already been through it? We hope each local drop-in will become the go-to place in your community to speak with someone about their sensory loss. “If you would like to find out more about how Visibility Scotland can help you, a friend, family member or neighbour living with a sensory impairment, please call Visibility Scotland on 07557 029 602 or email seehear@visibility.org.uk Although our groups and drop-ins are not currently running, our staff are available to offer emotional support or advice over the telephone.”

<< back Published: 19 Apr 2020, 12:07