Deafblind UK (known locally as Deafblind Cymru) has received funding from the Big Lottery Fund Wales to expand support services for deafblind people as part of its ‘Reaching Out Wales’ project.
Big Lottery Fund Wales has granted Deafblind UK £497,519 over three years to deliver the project. This is expected to support over 1,400 people across specific areas of North and South Wales to combat the worst effects of deafblindness, including isolation, loneliness and further mental and physical health problems. It will enable the charity to support deafblind people at all stages of the condition to live confident, socially active and independent lives.
Lee Bolland, Director of Operations and Community Services at Deafblind UK said: “We are delighted to receive this funding and would like to thank the Big Lottery Fund Wales for enabling us to make a genuine difference to people’s lives. The number of deafblind people living in Wales is drastically increasing and without our services there is little support available to them in the local area. We are excited to have the opportunity to change that.”
Deafblindness is the deterioration of sight and hearing to the point where communication, mobility and access to information are all severely restricted or lost. This inability to communicate can erode mental wellbeing, leading to isolation, loneliness and depression. As Deafblind Cymru member Joan from Wrexham said: “Deafblind people have the same everyday problems as the wider world, but they are compounded and multiplied”.
The RNIB estimates (2010) that 18,500 people in Wales are deafblind; this number is expected to rise by 60% by 2030.
Deafblind UK has been supporting people with combined sight and hearing impairments since 1928 through a variety of services such as providing information and advice, social groups, befriending services, advocacy, support with digital technology and much more.
The Reaching Out Wales project, funded by Big Lottery Wales, will:
– enable people living with deafblindness to feel more independent and less socially isolated
– help people to recognise the signs of deafblindness in order to access support to plan with confidence for their current and potential future needs
– ensure that local organisations have the awareness, knowledge and skills to make their services fully accessible to deafblind people, their families and carers, so that more support is available for any aspect, or at any stage, of the condition
– ensure that volunteers have increased skills, experience and confidence to play a proactive role in a more integrated community.
To support the project, a new marketing strategy will raise awareness of deafblindness and of Deafblind Cymru’s local services. Four new members of staff and a range of volunteers will also be recruited to work alongside the existing Deafblind Cymru team. The newly formed team will reach out to deafblind people in these areas with a view to making their lives comfortable, enjoyable and positive. They will coordinate local befriending volunteers, manage social groups, build relationships with other local organisations and work closely with Deafblind UK’s Advocacy Manager for specific advice on welfare, health and legal matters for the people they support.
Deafblind Cymru is now recruiting a Regional Manager, Area Manager, Senior Community Engagement Officer and Community Engagement Officer. To apply, go to www.deafblind.org.uk/work-for-us.