Linda was in her early 30’s when she was registered as partially sighted. She has Usher Syndrome which has given her hearing impairments along with Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) which cause gradual, progressive sight loss. Linda’s sight and hearing had got so bad that she had no option but to give up her job and driving which to her, meant giving up her much loved independence.
This left Linda virtually housebound and with two young children to support, the family’s finances were quickly stretched. Linda’s confidence reached rock bottom.
Desperately searching for help, Linda found there was very little support in her hometown of Grimsby, for people with both sight and hearing loss.
She heard about a Deafblind UK social group and went along, hoping that she could find out where to access more support but she left feeling low. “I just didn’t fit in; I was in my early 30’s and everyone else was over 60. Also, finding money to contribute towards the raffle and tombola was difficult.” Said Linda.
Linda had made up her mind that the group wasn’t for her, but after a chat with Deafblind UK staff, decided to give it another go and from that day, Linda’s morale improved. “I quickly realised that if these older people can cope then so can I.” She said.
As Linda’s confidence slowly grew, she felt she wanted to give something back and so with the support of Deafblind UK, she volunteered to set up her own coffee group.
“Having the chance to starting my own group and help other people like myself was a huge confidence boost; I knew how it felt to be in their situation and I wanted to show them that they do have a future.” Said Linda.
18 years later, Linda is a member-volunteer for Deafblind UK and her confidence is blossoming. Through sheer determination and passion for the cause she has now turned her small coffee group into a support group for people with sight and hearing loss. “I started to meet people through eye clinics and hearing clinics and showed them that further support is available. I worked with the local press and audio newspapers to spread the word and even arranged a deafblind awareness day.” Linda said.
“I also regularly have a stand in the local hospital to raise awareness of the group and I visit people in their own homes to help and support them however I can.” She added.
“I know how difficult it is to simply leave the house when you are partially sighted, so to get a group of people together once a month gives me such a sense of achievement. I want to show people who are living with combined sight and hearing loss that they are still a human being and that they can do what they want to do.
“Deafblind UK has shown me that I have got a future, despite having to learn to live with sight and hearing impairment.” Concluded Linda.