RNIB Talk and Support runs befriending social groups for adults with sight loss.
Our groups help you to socialise by phone or online, for friendship and peer support in small groups of blind and partially sighted people.
We match individuals together for general conversations as part of our Talk and Support befriending offer.
Trained staff or volunteers facilitate the groups. Typically, groups meet on a regular day of the week and run for a minimum of 12 weeks. Our facilitators help the group chat together and keep the conversation flowing. The service is open to adults who are blind and partially sighted of all ages from across the UK.
We can offer advice on accessible connection options if individuals are keen to communicate outside of their befriending group.
You don't need any special equipment to take part in our social groups. All you need is access to a phone or computer and somewhere quiet and comfortable while you take part.
We have lots of people who successfully take part in our groups who have difficulties with hearing. If you use a hearing aid or amplified phone then please call us to discuss if you have any concerns.
To join a group, please register your interest by filling in our webform.
1. When do the groups meet and for how long?
Befriending groups meet together over the telephone or online, once a week for around 55 minutes. Groups run between 9.30am and 5.00pm, Monday to Friday.
2. What do people in Talk and Support groups talk about?
Every one of our friendly groups is different and it’s up to the people in each group to decide what they like to talk about. People talk about everything from families and daily life to current affairs and interests. People often share practical information and encouragement about living with sight loss.
3. I'm a quiet person, what if I don't have much to say?
People from all walks of life join the service. We do our best to find you a group where you will feel comfortable to contribute. The volunteer hosting the group will ensure everyone has an opportunity to talk and feels comfortable to join in the group discussion.
4. What happens if I want to exchange contact details with friends that I've made in my group?
Our groups are safe and confidential and we would never share your details without your permission. If you do meet friends and want to talk at other times we will help you to do this outside of the group.
5. What happens if I can't attend my group or need to take a break?
If you are unable to attend your group for any reason, please let us know.
6. How will you match me to a Talk and Support group?
Our priority is to match you with a group which has like-minded people, perhaps of a similar age, interests and situation, rather than eye condition or where you live in the UK. You can also specify if you prefer to connect by phone or an online option.
7. How long will if take to match me to a Talk and Support group?
Depending upon your availability, we will try our best to offer you a group within two weeks. We’ll let you know if it takes longer.
Diane enjoys Talk and Support because it's something different and something that she looks forward to each week. She says: "You get to chat and talk to different people. They might be people that you don't know, but they're friendly people. We've all got something in common. I look forward to it each week."
Mandeep has taken part in his weekly Talk and Support group for almost a decade. He enjoys hearing about experiences people have had. "For example with sports, I was intrigued by blind people playing football but couldn't really understand how they did it. In these groups, you come across people who have actually done that and talk about how they did it," he says.
Rosanne has been taking part for over six years. She says: "I enjoy the fact that it's spontaneous. We never know what we are going to talk about because nothing is planned, which is good. This makes it very natural."
Ian says the group is good for him because he doesn't have a lot of friends in his local area. "It gives me a chance to meet other blind people, visually impaired people, from around the country, who obviously I wouldn't get to meet in ordinary circumstances. My favourite part of it is being able to make friends and find out what everyone likes to do. In our group, we all like computers quite a lot, so we are all quite techie and we exchange tips with each other. I just like getting to know people and I like the friendliness of it all," he says.