Sight Life has helped hundreds of blind and partially sighted people stay connected online and by phone during Covid with big benefits for their health and wellbeing. As a result, demand for the South Wales charity’s IT and phone support has rocketed since the start of the pandemic.
Sight Life CEO Rich Harvey said: “Lockdown left many blind and partially sighted people ‘twisolated’. Like everyone else they were suddenly cut off from family and friends. But on top of that, many at first struggled with things like Zoom and smart phones. This is where we were able to help by getting people online and connected.”
Sight Life’s one to one IT support by phone enabled hundreds of people to stay in touch when otherwise they would have been stuck at home alone. Many of our members are pleasantly surprised about the remote support we provide. One told us: “I didn’t think you could help with my IT problems over the phone. It’s great to know that I can ring you.”
Most of the people we support have some sight and can access video chat services like Zoom if shown how. As one of our Tonyrefail members said: “I find phone groups hard, I can’t see them and find it harder to hear. People get left out if they are shy, so Zoom is much better.”
Now that lockdown restrictions have eased, Sight Life is again offering some face to face IT support. “The challenge we face now is keeping up with demand,” said Operations Manager Michelle Jones. “Many of our older service users have seen the benefits of Zoom, tablets and smart-phones during the pandemic. Now, with a little bit of expert help from us, they know there’s nothing to stop them using this technology.”
Notes for editors
1. Sight Life (formerly Cardiff Institute for the Blind) supports people who are blind or partially sighted in south Wales. In 2020/21 we helped more than 3,000 people in Cardiff, Swansea, RCT, Neath and Port Talbot.
2. We provide statutory services to people with sight loss on behalf of the local Councils in Cardiff and Swansea.
3. In cooperation with the NHS, we provide a support service (ECLO: Eye Clinic Liaison Officer) for patients newly diagnosed with sight loss in University Hospital of Wales (UHW “The Heath”) in Cardiff.
4. Our aims are to ensure that people with sight loss can take part in all aspects of society, including work and leisure.
5. We offer a range of training, clubs and activities including audio-described theatre trips, confidence building, cooking, drama, employment support, fitness, gardening, IT, music, photography, rambling and yoga to people with sight loss.
6. Established in 1865, we are one of Wales’ oldest charities. In spring 2022 we will return to being an independent charity after being part of the UK wide RNIB Group since 2009.
7. We have approximately a dozen staff and annual income in the region of £440,000 from statutory contracts, grants, trusts, The National Lottery, donations and legacies.
Need to talk to someone? Call us on 029 2039 8900
Sight Life (Head Office)
029 2039 8900
Swansea and Neath Port Talbot
Swansea Vale Resource Centre
Swansea SA7 0AL