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Counselling service wins grant from Scottish Government's Wellbeing Fund

A charity's support for blind and partially sighted people affected by the coronavirus lockdown has received a £11,500 boost from the Scottish Government's Wellbeing Fund.

"With this additional funding we will be able to support an additional 20 people and respond to the increased demand for more in-depth, one-to-one emotional support," said RNIB Scotland director, James Adams.

"The practical and psychological effects of losing your sight can have a significant impact on people’s well-being, and this current situation has exacerbated the anxiety and isolation felt by many.

"It's not surprising, then, that the impact of coronavirus can be even more profound for this group. Access to essential services such as food and medicines is more difficult as is social distancing, vital information on staying safe isn't always in accessible formats, and many of our older members aren't always confident about using new technology to stay in touch with others.

"One person told us, 'I feel more disabled', as all of her face-to-face support groups have been cancelled and her sense of isolation compounded."

Everyone accessing RNIB's confidential counselling service will receive eight weekly sessions with an accredited counsellor, delivered via telephone and online, with each session normally lasting an hour.

"The funding will enable us to reduce the waiting list for emergency mental health sessions and also let existing clients access additional sessions," said Mr Adams. "Our clients tell us it is really important that the support that they receive comes from a counsellor who has knowledge and understanding about sight loss."

Sight loss affects people of all ages, but as people get older, they are increasingly likely to experience sight loss. One in five people aged 75 and over, and one in two people aged 90 and over are living with sight loss. People with sight loss may also have an additional disability or another health condition.