LEADING sight loss charity the Macular Society has been able to boost its online and telephone support services for people with macular disease in Scotland, who may be suffering during the Covid-19 pandemic, thanks to an additional grant of £15,624 from the National Lottery Community Fund.
Earlier this year, the National Lottery Community Fund also awarded the Macular Society £120,000 to deliver a comprehensive programme of practical and emotional support services to people in Scotland with macular disease over the next three years.
This generous funding is helping the charity to meet the increased demand it is seeing for remote support as a result of the pandemic, while all of its face-to-face services have been temporarily suspended. These remote services are especially important to help ease any increased feelings of loneliness and isolation people may be experiencing as the impact of Covid-19 continues.
The additional funds have enabled the Macular Society to strengthen a number of its support services in Scotland, including its advice and information line, telephone befriending, the 50 local support groups, which are currently connecting via teleconference calls, professional counselling and the working-age and young people’s services. The charity has also been recruiting and training volunteers for its newly-launched ‘Connect by Tech’ service, which helps visually-impaired people stay connected by teaching them how to get the most from popular devices like tablets and smart speakers, as well as advice on activities like online shopping and access to audiobooks.
Cathy Yelf, Macular Society chief executive, said:
“This funding plays a crucial role in supporting people with macular disease in Scotland at a time when they’ve needed our services more than ever before, and we’d like to thank the National Lottery Community Fund, and all of the Lottery players, for their ongoing support.
“Our remote support services are hugely in demand right now. Many of those affected by macular disease are older or vulnerable, meaning that they are having to shield themselves during the current pandemic, and they may be having little or no contact with anyone else. It’s absolutely critically important that we’re here to help them and offer a reassuring presence during these unprecedented times.”
Macular disease is the biggest cause of sight loss in the UK. Nearly 1.5 million people are currently affected and many more are at risk. The disease can have a devastating effect on people’s lives, leaving them unable to drive, read or see faces. Many people affected describe losing their sight as being similar to bereavement. There is still no cure and most types of the disease are not treatable. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most common form of macular disease, affecting more than 600,000 people, usually over the age of 50.
Neil Ritch, the National Lottery Community Fund Scotland director, said:
“In these uncertain times, our priority is to ensure that National Lottery money continues to flow to charities, voluntary sector organisations and grassroots groups. I would like to congratulate the Macular Society on the work they are doing. Theirs is an important project that will support people now during the current crisis, and in the future when they can physically come back together to make great things happen in their community.”