Please note that as of October 2020, we now operate as Sight Scotland Veterans. Our former name, Scottish War Blinded will appear in content, such as reports, produced before that date.
A new Practice Lead for Northern Scotland has joined Scottish War Blinded as the charity fights to keep up the spirits of veterans with sight loss isolated at home in the coronavirus outbreak.
The new addition to Scottish War Blinded’s outreach management team responds to the ever-growing number of veterans with sight loss the charity has been supporting across the north of Scotland.
Practice Lead, Jenny Liddell, is managing seven Scottish War Blinded outreach workers covering the Highlands and Islands, Moray, Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire, parts of Northern Fife, North Perth and Kinross and Dundee and Angus. They are part of a 17-strong outreach worker team nationwide, now covering every local authority area in Scotland.
Rising to the unprecedented challenges of coronavirus, the charity’s outreach workers, who normally provide a one-to-one support service including home visits as well as running group activities and lunch clubs for veterans with sight loss, have adapted their service to carry on supporting veterans remotely.
Practice Lead, Jenny Liddell, who has 16 years’ experience of working in sensory services, has hit the ground running in her new role in these most testing of times. Jenny said: “Throughout this pandemic, we are staying in contact with each individual via telephone and email. Everyone we support has had a call to ensure they know they can get in touch with us to get help.
“We’ve pulled together a list of those who are at high risk and in the shielding group and those who are living alone and most vulnerable – they are getting frequent calls. We’re drawing up a really comprehensive resource for our staff that details all local and national support groups, so if anything changes for anyone we can quickly help them access help in their area.
“We are still referring veterans (our existing members) to Scottish War Blinded’s rehabilitation team, who are conducting telephone assessments for equipment such as magnifiers and kitchen aids which we can post out to them, as well as providing expert advice to help people maintain their independence at home.
“I have been so impressed with how strong our outreach workers’ professional relationships are with the veterans we support.”
With Scottish War Blinded’s lunch groups and activities cancelled in line with Scottish Government advice, Jenny and her outreach team are working hard to ensure veterans supported by the charity still benefit from vital social connections remotely.
Jenny said: “Living with sight loss had already deeply affected the ability to get out and about or maintain independence for many of the veterans we support prior to this outbreak.
“Everybody is feeling it now. They are obviously feeling concerned, but people are loving getting our phone calls. We’re doing all we can to keep our veterans smiling.
“One of our outreach workers based in Aberdeenshire came up with our ‘Non-pub Quiz’. Each outreach worker has a ‘team’ of six veterans – they’ll call them up each week with two questions. Another outreach worker has been looking at the remaining football fixtures and discussing with one gentleman over the phone what each result would be each week.
“It’s about keeping in touch, phoning up for another reason and chatting about something different that tailors to that person’s interests. For those with access to email and social media, we’ve been sharing online classes and sessions that are of interest, and also sharing some videos from ourselves.
“It’s not just people with sight loss living in the most rural areas who are struggling – many living in more urban areas are still dealing with social isolation. Wherever our veterans are based, we are dedicated to providing the highest levels of support at all times.
“It is an immense privilege to be able to make a difference to veterans with sight loss. When the country comes through these extremely challenging times, I look forward to finally meeting Scottish War Blinded veterans in person – as well as my new outreach colleagues – and developing even more new partnerships for the charity in Northern Scotland.”
Rebecca Barr, Director of Services, Scottish War Blinded, said: “We are delighted that Jenny has joined Scottish War Blinded as our new Practice Lead for Northern Scotland.
“Our veterans need us now more than ever. We are working hard to ensure each and every person we support knows they are not alone and is getting the help they need. Sight loss has an emotional impact on many people – it’s vital that we continue to combat social isolation remotely throughout this difficult period where many could be feeling this even more acutely.”