Older people losing their sight because of macular degeneration will be able to access a telephone helpline, professional counselling service and befriending scheme, thanks to a grant from Hampshire and Isle of Wight Freemasons to the Macular Society.

The grant of £99,070 to the Andover-based charity aims to make real the pledge of ‘Making Sure No One Faces Sight-loss Alone’ for tens of thousands of callers every year.

Mike Wilks, Provincial Grand Master with Betty Richards

 

Macular disease is the biggest cause of blindness in the UK, with nearly 1.7 million people currently affected and many more are at risk. More than 600,000 people have late-stage macular degeneration, heading towards severe, irreversible, vision loss.

The grant will support the extension of free support services provided by the Society over the next three years, providing emotional support to people losing their sight. The project includes a helpline for advice and information, confidential telephone counselling, telephone befriending, and buddy schemes. The bundle of services work together, with beneficiaries moving between them as their needs dictate.

The Macular Society is the leading charity fighting to end sight loss caused by macular disease. 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.

The grant from Hampshire and Isle of Wight Freemasons comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, which is funded by Freemasons, their families and friends, from across England and Wales.

Emma Malcolm, director of fundraising and marketing at the Macular Society, said:

“We’re so grateful to Hampshire and Isle of Wight Freemasons for their generous grant. Macular disease is cruel and isolating; it steals your sight, your confidence and the ability to do the things you love. But this funding will help us provide the practical and emotional support they need to continue living their lives independently.”

Mike Wilks, Provincial Grand Master of Hampshire and Isle of Wight freemasons, said:

“I’m very pleased we’re able to help the Macular Society with their work to support thousands of people with this terrible condition. Having someone to talk to, who really understands, is absolutely essential for people trying to cope with losing their sight.”