A sight loss charity has today released a new film to highlight the isolation experienced by many who lose their sight.
The film, ‘Ken’s Story’, demonstrates the loneliness often experienced by the veterans Blind Veterans UK supports, as any issues of isolation felt as we age can increase if you have lost your sight.
The average age of ex-Service men and women supported by Blind Veterans UK is 84 and the vast majority of the veterans they support have lost their sight later in life, decades after their service, due to age-related conditions.
The film follows the journey experienced by Ken, a blind veteran supported by the charity since 2015. It captures the loneliness and isolation that Ken felt when he lost his sight due to age-related macular degeneration (ARMD).
Ken, who joined the Royal Air Force in 1949 and served for 9 years, said:
“At the time my sight started to go I’d been in hospital and my wife had just died, everything was going around me. I was more or less at the bottom and didn’t know how far I was going down.
“The first thing Blind Veterans UK did was to arrange for me to visit their training centre down in Brighton for an intro week. It was only when I came back I realised how low I had been.
“Just having company again did and still does make a huge difference.”
Research performed in 2014 by the Thomas Pocklington Trust into Loneliness, Social Isolation and Sight Loss highlighted that ‘difficulties with communication and social interaction can contribute to people with sight loss feeling socially isolated.’
Independent Age also conducted research in the same year into the emerging crisis of isolation for older men which found that men aged 80 and over were more likely to report high levels of loneliness (12%) compared to men aged 65-79 (7%). The research also found that older men are more isolated than older women with 14% of older men experiencing moderate to high social isolation compared to 11% of women.
As well as demonstrating the isolation felt by blind veterans like Ken, the film also shows the difference made by the training, rehabilitation and support the charity provides. Ken is shown with new equipment, provided by Blind Veterans UK, which allows him to read his mail again and keep in contact with friends and family.
Ken’s Story also shows the relationship that has developed between him and a Blind Veterans UK volunteer called Liam who now visits Ken several times a week. The charity has set a target to recruit 500 more volunteers with a specific focus on recruiting Home Visitors like Liam. Blind Veterans UK views this as crucial in helping to combat the isolation experienced by so many of its beneficiaries.
Blind Veterans UK currently supports more blind veterans than ever before in the charity’s history, but it knows there are many thousands more who still need their support.
Chief Executive of Blind Veterans UK, Major General (Rtd) Nick Caplin CB said:
“We estimate that there are up to 50,000 veterans out there who are entitled to our support but not receiving it. Veterans like Ken, who are living with sight loss and possibly experiencing those same feelings of isolation demonstrated so powerfully by him in this film.
“Together we can help rebuild blind veterans’ lives after sight loss. Away from isolation. Towards a life of fulfilment.”
Blind Veterans UK helps vision-impaired ex-Service men and women of every generation rebuild their lives after sight loss. Since 1915 the charity has provided rehabilitation, training, practical advice and emotional support to tens of thousands of blind veterans.
Blind Veterans UK currently supports more blind veterans than ever before in the charity’s history, but it knows there are many more who still need its support to rebuild their lives following their sight loss.