A record number of 940 new ex-Service men and women with sight loss in the UK are set to receive support from national charity Blind Veterans UK, according to new figures.
Since 1915, Blind Veterans UK has supported more than 35,000 veterans to overcome the challenges of sight loss.
In the 2016/17 financial year, more veterans than ever before accessed Blind Veterans UK’s free services, bringing the total number of beneficiaries up to 4,500.
Ann-Mari Freebairn, Blind Veterans UK’s director of engagement said: “We are delighted to announce that 940 more blind and vision-impaired veterans will now receive the vital support they need to discover life beyond sight loss.”
Blind Veterans UK launched the No One Alone campaign in 2012 with the aim to reach out to the thousands of potential beneficiaries. Many of these are older veterans who completed their service years ago, or did National Service, and lost their sight through age-related illnesses such as macular degeneration and glaucoma.
The No One Alone campaign has been recognised externally for its success and was shortlisted for a Vision Pioneer Award in June 2016. The campaign team specifically engage with health and social care professionals who play a key role in referring veterans to the charity.
It produced a new video championing best practice at Aintree University Hospital and a direct mail-out to ophthalmologists in September 2016. This led to a 29% increase in referrals to Blind Veterans UK’s services from eye clinic liaison officers and low vision clinics. It also continued its partnerships with other charities including Visionary and Action for Blind People (now RNIB).
The growth of new beneficiaries is particularly welcome as the charity has recently set the ambitious target of doubling the number of beneficiaries to 8,000 by 2022. This April, the charity launched new community support teams to provide increased tailored services closer to home with a view to giving more support to the charity’s older beneficiaries.
Ann-Mari said: “Blind Veterans UK has increased the number of veterans it supports year-on-year and the No One Alone campaign has been key to this. We want to build on this success and support more blind veterans than ever before. If you know someone in need of our support please get in touch.”
The team also participates in outreach work by attending external events, with the support of 14 of its vision-impaired veteran volunteers, who travel all over the country speaking about the charity’s support at local events and exhibitions. They attended 170 events in the last financial year.
If you, or someone you know, served in the Armed Forces or did National Service and is now battling severe sight loss, find out how Blind Veterans UK could help by calling 0800 389 7979 or visiting noonealone.org.uk.