Visibility, which has been helping people living with sensory loss for 160 years, will use the money to develop a number of community-base drop-ins services, or ‘hubs’, across Wigtownshire. 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.
The charity has worked with hundreds of people across the region, demonstrating and loaning assistive technology, facilitating two 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: “This funding will enable us to build on our existing services for people with vision and hearing impairments across the region and build connections within communities.
“We are in the process of creating local drop-ins or hubs in each of the four locality areas across Dumfries & Galloway, 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.
“People will also get to hear about other services in their local area and can be signposted to other organisations for additional support plus find out what’s going on generally in their local area. The aim is that they leave feeling better informed and connected to their communities, tackling loneliness and isolation.”
Visibility 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: “Visual impairment makes a person isolated; getting out of the house is just so difficult; others find the condition difficult to understand. So, having a club like the VIP Club in Newton Stewart is a godsend!
“Once a month, it allows local visually impaired people to meet, chat over coffee and cakes, learn about gadgetry, discover how the other members of the group manage to do tasks around the house or the garden; and, even, just have a good old natter about the problems caused by sight loss. After all, a problem shared is often a problem halved. Over the years, I have found attending this club invaluable. It makes me get out of the house, always a good thing, as it has helped me to keep in contact with the outside world.”
Morag Faichney, 43, another of Visibility’s sensory inspirers, added: “This is such fantastic news for people across Wigtownshire. Visibility helped me see there was still so much I could do or could learn and readjust to, and I’m delighted to be able to give back and offer my experience to others. Whether you are living with sensory loss, or perhaps caring for a friend or family member coming to terms with a sight or hearing impairment, news of this funding means that help and support is available right here in Dumfries & Galloway.”
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 can help you, a friend, family member or neighbour living with a visual impairment, please call Visibility on 01387 267 131 or email firstname.lastname@example.org”