Did you know.....
50% of people living with sight loss need assistance with shopping for everyday necessities.
15% of people living with sight loss stated that they spoke to fewer than 3 people in the past week.
Over 7000 people living in Bolton are affected by sight loss and a large percentage of these people are very isolated.
At BSBP we provide a weekly befriending service for blind and partially sighted adults in the aim to reduce the social isolation they experience and to assist with everyday tasks such as reading mail, shopping for necessities and establishing social networks.
Here is one members' and volunteers' story of befriending and friendship:
Toni has been visiting Ken for over 5 years now. Ken is 82 years old and lives within a care home. He suffers from sight loss aswell as hearing loss.
Toni has taught Ken how to read and write Braille and now Ken is confident with the Braille alphabet. Ken has a Braille Perkins machine which Toni left with him as she felt it would benefit him and also give him a different activity to do during the week.
During their time together, they chat about what has been going on since their last visit. This is done by verbal communication, which can be quite difficult so Toni has taught Ken to cimmunicate by spelling words onto Kens hands. He finds this extremely therapeutic and useful as he is finding out about the outside world and what is going on without being yelled at by someone being 'in his face'.
Ken has been sighted so it is good for him to be able to still understand and find out what is going on, and with Toni's visits, he is ableto do this.
Ken looks forward to Toni's visits as he only has Toni and his son visiting him. The hour spent with Toni is quite precious and he appreciates the time she gives to him. He stated: 'Its changed my life for the better as I've got a new friend who I look forward to seeing every week and have someone who has the patience to sit and listen and to work with me. Someone I wouldn't have if the Befriending Service didn't exist.'
Toni looks forward to visiting Ken and she is happy that he is at least getting time with someone at least once a week. It has also made her more aware of what other people go through on a day to day basis and now understands how difficult it must be to have a dual sensory loss. She has a laugh with Ken and knows how appreciative he is of her visits.
Toni stated: 'Visiting Ken has increased my confidence and I now feel able to communicate more effectively with blind/deaf people. If I didn't visit Ken I would feel in some ways un-needed. The visits have helped to improve my social skills and makes me happy as when I visit Ken, I am always happy to see him and help him.'
Toni has also been working with the care workers where Ken lives to help them communicate with him in a more effective way. This has helped dramatically as now some of the care workers are using the form of communication Toni uses to communicate with Ken.
This service is part-funded by the Postcode Community Trust, a grant-giving charity funded entirely by players of Peoples Postcode Lottery.