BRITISH Wireless for the Blind Fund (BWBF), a Kent-based UK charity with a regional focus that aims to improve the daily lives of those living with sight loss. The charity provides free, specially adapted audio equipment to those living with sight loss, has announced that its popular BWBFConnect service (01622 754 757) will continue throughout Wales in 2021.
The dedicated service was initially launched in April 2020, shortly after the UK entered its first COVID-19 lockdown. Designed to better connect vulnerable people to essential support networks, the scheme a free audio device, delivered direct to the door, to ensure critical information is communicated effectively, and that vulnerable people can access vital support.
To date, more than 2000 radios have been delivered under the BWBF initiative. Having proven to be highly successful, and in great demand, BWBF hopes that the continuation of the scheme throughout 2021 will enable even more people with sight loss to stay connected, rebuild their confidence, and reduce feelings of isolation. BWBF is striving to provide another 2000 devices this year.
Sophie Wheldon, BWBF Regional Development Manager said:
“BWBFConnect was so successful during 2020 that we are extending the project to support more people with sight loss across the coming year. While we have had some very positive news lately about the roadmap out of lockdown, what many don’t realise is that life won’t return to normal until much later for those with sight loss. With the continuation of the scheme, we want to make sure that people living with sight loss do not become COVID’s forgotten; we want to ensure that we’re doing everything we can to provide mental stimulation, news, and entertainment during lonely times.”
The radios play a significant role in delivering news and information, along with entertainment and, perhaps most importantly, a friendly voice and companionship at a time when many people are separated from their friends and families.
“I love this device, it keeps me company all day. I can’t see my children or grandchildren so this is all I have to keep me company. I have the radio on all day and in the evening I listen to my talking books, it’s a Godsend,” says Jean, aged 75 from Birmingham, who received an audio device under the BWBFConnect scheme.
According to research by the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), many of those living with sight loss are fearful of going out because they are unable to clearly see social distancing markets. The RNIB reports that some have been confronted for a failure to abide by the 2-metre regulation. Additionally, around one quarter have been unable to carry on as normal as social distancing laws have meant they no longer have access to a necessary guide.
BWBF phone lines have remained open during the pandemic and will remain open with staff and volunteers carrying out many of their duties from home to continue providing necessary support for those with sight loss as the UK’s lockdown continues.