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RNIB NI responds to coronavirus with specialist support

The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) is offering support to people affected by sight loss in Northern Ireland after unprecedented changes to everyday life.

The current social distancing and self-isolation measures can be particularly difficult for the 56,500 blind and partially sighted people who live in Northern Ireland, as many rely on guides and public transport to live independently.

In response, RNIB has improved telephone and online access to its Sight Loss Advice Service – which offers emotional support and practical advice to blind and partially sighted people and their families.

Jamie Dormandy, head of customer service and advice at RNIB, said: “The measures to stop to spread of coronavirus are having an unprecedented impact on the way that people with sight loss go about their day-to-day lives. Social distancing and self-isolation are presenting new challenges – with a lot of blind and partially sighted people worried about how they can continue to travel to the shop for essential supplies or find the items they need without the support of a guide.

“We have scaled up our telephone and online advice service to answer the questions that blind and partially sighted people have right now and are connecting people with local support. It’s very important that anyone affected by sight loss in Northern Ireland knows they are not alone, and we are here to support them.”

The service is providing information on a range of issues affecting people with sight loss during this national health crisis, including:

  • how to access essential items, such as food and medicine
  • navigating safely while adhering to social distancing advice
  • advice on eye health at a time when non-urgent appointments have been cancelled
  • support to reduce loneliness during self-isolation
  • information about benefits and financial support provided by the Government

RNIB Eye Health Liaison Officers (ECLOs), which are normally clinic-based in hospitals, are also on hand over the phone to offer practical advice on living with sight loss and emotional support.

RNIB’s Sight Loss Advice Service is available to anyone concerned on 0303 123 9999 between 8am and 8pm on weekdays and between 9am and 1pm on Saturdays. Advice is also being updated online.

Notes to editors

All media enquiries and interview requests to Aideen Kennedy on 07825 213043 or email [email protected].

About RNIB

We are the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB).

Every six minutes, someone in the UK begins to lose sight. RNIB is taking a stand against exclusion, inequality and isolation to create a world without barriers where people with sight loss can lead full lives. A different world where society values blind and partially sighted people not for the disabilities they’ve overcome, but for the people they are.