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New helpline to offer support to thousands of Scots with sight loss

Public Health Minister Maree Todd has launched the new national Sight Scotland Support Line. 

The new telephone service from Sight Scotland, Scotland’s largest sight loss charity, offers someone for people with sight loss and their families to turn to for information, advice and support.

People impacted by sight loss can call the freephone helpline on 0800 024 8973, Monday to Friday from 9am – 5pm.

The new service launches as Sight Scotland and Sight Scotland Veterans publish findings from their latest research involving over 200 visually impaired people. Over 55% of participants said they hadn’t had enough information about where they could find support after their diagnosis; while over 80% said it was important to provide more support to family members and carers.

Almost 90% said it was important they and their families received support to deal with the emotional impact of sight loss.

The Sight Scotland Support Line is part of Sight Scotland’s newly formed Family Wellbeing Service, as the charity strives to support even more people impacted by sight loss in communities across Scotland. The charity has also produced a new information guide, ‘Support for Sight Loss’, produced with sister charity Sight Scotland Veterans.

Officially launching the Sight Scotland Support Line, Public Health Minister Maree Todd, said:

“The pandemic has been especially difficult for those with sight loss, increasing feelings of isolation and loneliness. It has highlighted even more so how vital it is that support is available to everyone affected by sight loss. I am therefore privileged to launch this national support line.

“The emotional impact of losing your sight can be overwhelming and people with sight loss who need support shouldn’t be left to cope with emotional distress on their own. This new service will help to provide that crucial support, as well as valuable information and advice, tailored to the individual, right from the start.

“We continue to work with our third sector partners, including Sight Scotland, to better understand and respond to the challenges faced by those with sensory loss, particularly those that have been exacerbated by COVID-19, by sharing guidance on supporting people with a sensory impairment and by developing guidance for those providing sighted guide support during the pandemic.”

Chief Executive of Sight Scotland and Sight Scotland Veterans, Mark O’Donnell, said:

“We are proud to officially launch the Sight Scotland Support Line nationally today.

“This new telephone service is there for anyone impacted by visual impairment so that no one in Scotland has to struggle with sight loss alone. Our friendly, caring community team are here to provide tailored information and advice for blind and partially sighted people, as well as families and carers.

“Our research has shown that this is the kind of information that people want following diagnosis of an eye condition to help them find who can support them to live well with sight loss. We know it has been particularly difficult for people to access support due to the impact of Covid-19, and that it is particularly important to launch this national support line service now.

“We are delighted that the Scottish Government recently launched the Eyes. Scot website as an invaluable source of information and we are seeking to play our role in reaching more people with sight loss through the launch of our new community services.”

Agnes Stevenson, 78, of Prestonpans, East Lothian was diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration three years ago while she was a full-time carer for her husband, Tom, who had dementia and sadly passed away last year.

Struggling with the impact of her sight loss, Agnes reached out to Sight Scotland earlier this year. She has welcomed the national launch of the Sight Scotland Support Line.

New helpline to offer support to thousands of Scots with sight loss
Agnes Stevenson

Agnes said:

“I didn’t know anything about macular degeneration. When I was told I had it, I was devastated. At that time, I got no information at all.

“It was a huge shock. If I had had support at an earlier point following my diagnosis, I don’t think I would have gone into such a depression. You can’t sleep for thinking how about how you’re going to cope.

“There must be hundreds of people like me. The Sight Scotland Support Line can be a huge help for people impacted by sight loss. It’s so important that this support is there.

“I feel I have some support now. There was somebody there who would listen to me. It’s been a blessing. They’ve introduced me to different options and given me so much confidence. I see a future for myself and that is thanks to Sight Scotland.

“There is somebody there for you. You don’t need to be alone.”

For more information, please call the Sight Scotland Support Line on 0800 024 8973 or visit: SightScotland.org.uk.

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