How we can help with home learning and other lockdown challenges

During lockdown, we can help with home learning and access to the food, services and information blind and partially sighted people need to maintain their resilience, health and wellbeing. 

If you would like our support, or know someone who needs it, please call the RNIB Helpline on 0303 123 9999. 

Our Helpline team is able to explain what support we offer but, in addition, here are the details of the resources we provide with key challenges presented by the latest national lockdown as announced on 4 January 2021. 

Parents, children and young people – home learning and technology

In response to the latest UK restrictions and responses to coronavirus in January 2021, we have boosted our support for Children, Young People and Families to facilitate the additional changes of home learning. This includes addressing the specific issues in relation to remote learning, digital access that impact of school closures raises for children and young people with VI (vision impairment).

This home learning support for parents and families includes:

  • Online weekly advice sessions for parents 
  • Top home learning technology tips and questions and answers
  • Online Shape and Share events for parents and children: a great way for children and young people with VI - and their families - to make new friends, try new things, and engage in some much-needed fun
  • Resources to support during school closure
  • Support for professionals

Making connections – reaching out to our customers

Now, more than ever, we are all at risk of isolation. We have many ways of keeping people connected online and through different communities but key members of the RNIB team are reaching out to customers who we are able to call. RNIB made more than 80,000 calls in the first UK lockdown of 2020, which opened up various services and areas of support to thousands of people. 

Priority food delivery – getting access to supermarket shopping

We can support blind or partially sighted people who are struggling to access food. Supermarkets are advising to book online delivery slots via their apps and through mobile devices where possible, however, in some cases, capacity may still be reached or exceeded. We can provide help and advice, and for people in England, and some areas of Scotland, we may be able to refer you to priority supermarket delivery slots via the RNIB Helpline on 0303 123 9999.

In Northern Ireland, anyone in need of food or other essential support can phone the Helpline on: 0808 802 0020; email: [email protected], or text: ACTION to 81025.  

In Scotland, there is a National Assistance helpline for access to food and groceries.

You can also find essential information on the Sight Advice FAQ website.

Social and mental health support – looking after your wellbeing

During this challenging time, it's vital that we look after our mental health. Whether you’re struggling with feelings of isolation and need to speak to someone, or if you just want some tips on how to stay active and maintain your mental health, we can support you. 

If you're unsure about where to start with seeking help, please call our Sight Loss Advice Service on 0303 123 9999.

Additionally, our Sight Loss Advice Service has worked with Mind, the mental health charity, to offer a free Mental Wellbeing Check-in over the phone with BACP-registered counsellors with sight loss experience, to give emotional support during these difficult times.

Eye health and eye clinic attendance – what support is available

If you have questions and concerns about your sight or eye condition during coronavirus, or are concerned about attending their eye clinic appointment in terms of social distancing and safe access to the hospital, please call our Helpline on 0303 123 9999 but we also have advice online concerning what to do if you are worried about your vision, attending essential and routine eye appointments, waiting for cataract surgery, delayed clinic appointments for people with glaucoma and retinal screening for people with diabetes.

RNIB Connect Radio – broadcasting the latest essential information

RNIB Connect Radio, which broadcasts 24 hours a day and can found on Freeview 730 and online, is one of the easiest ways to access a range of information and entertaining shows for blind and partially sighted people. It broadcasts a daily coronavirus update show, which runs from 10am until 12pm and is repeated at 4pm-6pm, which includes important updates about RNIB services, resources and plans and we hear how people are supporting each other as they face new daily challenges.

  • As well as via Freeview 730 and online, you can find RNIB Connect Radio through smart devices e.g. by saying: "Alexa listen to RNIB Connect Radio".