In winter, people with vision problems face more isolation because of shorter days and cold weather, making it harder for them to safely go outside.
When someone doesn't have family or friends nearby, they might go days or weeks without talking to anyone. This can make them feel sad and worried.
Anyone who is experiencing vision loss or has a family member or friend who needs assistance can call our helpline. Some people just call for a chat because they are lonely, or they call to talk through their diagnosis and the changes they are going through, such as giving up their job or their car or changes they need to make in their home. Often people need emotional support and someone who will listen. For someone affected by sight loss having someone listening to them cannot be underestimated, it is just so important that people know they are not alone.
Kelly Rooney works as a Sight Loss Information Worker for Sight Scotland Veterans. Kelly has over 15 years of experience working in the vison impairment sector, having worked previously at Sight Scotland’s Royal Blind School and then at Sight Scotland Veterans’ Linburn Centre in West Lothian.
Kelly explains: “I really enjoy my job; it is all about helping veterans and supporting them on their sight loss journey. Our veterans are very proud people, it can be very difficult for them to ask for help. So, if they, or a family member or friend, has taken the important decision to call the Support Line they have to be treated in the correct way. We need to listen to them, talk to them, engage in conversation, make them feel comfortable and hopefully encourage them to open up about what needs they have.
“I started in my new role as a Sight Loss Information worker in November 2022. We are the first port of call for a veteran to contact the charity. It is my job to speak to anyone who calls the Support Line and to listen and find out what kind of support they require. Listening is key, there are no time constraints on calls, it is our job to make sure the people who are calling get the best possible support they can.
“Our support will trigger all our other services, so we need to find out as much information as we can, but in a very friendly and calming manner. We need to find out about their sight loss, what support networks they have in place, find out about their mobility, have they had any slips or falls? We also need to find out about their home, are they managing to do everyday activities that sighted people take for granted such as cooking, cleaning, or opening mail. We then use all the information gathered to make a referral, for example to the rehabilitation and mobility team, or the family wellbeing team.
“We always give the caller a chance to ask us questions, so they feel comfortable with our service and know what is happening and how we can help. Listening and chatting is vital, often people with visual impairment can be quite vulnerable, isolated and lonely. So, talking, listening and engaging can instantly make them feel better about themselves and make them realise they are not alone and that there are people out there who can help them.
Kelly adds: “We are getting a lot busier with each passing week, as more and more veterans get to know about the service. The Support Line service will change and adapt as it grows and has already in the four months since it has been opened. With a service like this, there is not a one size fits all, as the people we are helping are all different, each with differing needs. Every call is unique, and we need to adapt our support to meet the individual. I’m so passionate about the veteran community, I have family members who are veterans, it is just so important we support them in every way we can.”
The Sight Scotland Veterans’ Information Line has been set up to give out information on:
Sight loss conditions
Ways to mitigate the impact of your sight loss condition
Changes you could make to your home
New ways Sight Scotland Veterans could help in your daily life
Information on all our other services
Details about other organisations that could help
Sight Scotland Veterans supports veterans living with significant sight loss. Our support equips people to rediscover and maintain their independence and to improve their quality of life.
For more information please call our Sight Scotland Veterans Support Line.
Call our support line
If you need support of the winter period, please get in touch.