How does Deafblind UK help Veterans?
Deafblind UK currently supports over 200 deafblind Veterans. Deafblind UK’s CEO, Lieutenant Colonel Stephen Conway Royal Marines (Retired) explains: “Facing the challenges of making the transition from a military career to life outside the Armed Forces can be daunting for many Veterans, but when compounded by sight and hearing loss those challenges are even more significant. We offer Veterans a specialist service, which draws on our unrivalled knowledge and experience of living with sight and hearing loss, to support these Veterans and make a real difference to their lives. We have also extended our opening hours and upskilled our teams to enable them to give specialist advice to Veterans about pensions and compensation schemes as well as offering emotional support to those who need it.”
Suffering from hearing and sight problems present many unique challenges. Deafblind UK supports Veterans to have access to potentially life-changing technology and coping mechanisms which can dramatically alter the quality of life for these Veterans.
Due to Covid-19, Deafblind UK has had to change how they support some Veterans. Simone Moore, Director of Operations explains: “The Coronavirus pandemic is affecting a lot of our members, either emotionally or practically. We have connected people to local support groups who can help them to get food, we have summarised news briefings for people who cannot access that information and we have talked to people who are finding isolation and the increased anxiety all too much to deal with. We have also taught people how to use video calls and accessible technology to keep in touch with their family, which is very rewarding to witness.
Veteran John served in the Korean War, at the age of 21 he lost his sight and hearing during the conflict. As a result of his injuries, John finds many everyday tasks difficult. He explains: “A lot of services in our society are just not easy for me to access which is really frustrating.” John has been going to his local pub for over 50 years, one day they sealed off the entrance he had been using. Due to being Deafblind, John is often not able to be independent. Going to the pub was one of the few things he was able to do by himself, he relied on using a specific entrance because he was very familiar with the entrance and the route he had to take to get there. He was understandably devastated when the pub closed this entrance. Upon hearing about this, Deafblind UK negotiated tirelessly with the pub to reopen the entrance, they were successful and John is once again (lockdown permitting) able to attend his local. Deafblind UK are in consistent contact with John to ensure that he is given the support he needs and knows that he can talk to someone if he likes. When asked what Deafblind UK means to him, John replied: “I will always like to do things for myself but I know that Deafblind UK is there if I come unstuck. I can just call them and I know there is someone there so I’m not on my own.”
How does Veterans’ Foundationsupport Deafblind UK?
Veterans’ Foundation is delighted to support Deafblind UK’s care of Veterans who have sight and hearing loss. The funding will, amongst other things, help stave off the increased isolation and loneliness that Veterans’ are facing due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
A Deafblind UK spokesperson explained: “This funding will allow Deafblind UK to offer an enhanced and expanded helpline service to our veterans, offering practical assistance and advice alongside wellbeing and emotional support.”