Adapting to Covid – our new normal

Two ladies wearing disposable gloves, face masks and visors

How Covid has affected our members

Being deafblind in this pandemic has been difficult and often terrifying. We never thought that in 2020, we would be taking calls from our members who are running out of food and unable to get more. Thankfully, we could help by supporting them to do online shopping or by connecting them to local volunteers who could help them.

Many people were left wondering what is going on because they simply couldn’t access the public information as there was no sign language interpreter or subtitles on the news briefings.

More recently, as the restrictions ease, our members are telling us that they feel more anxious than ever. They are scared to go out for fear of not being able to see one way systems or to socially distance. Some are frightened of bumping into others, and the necessity to touch and feel handrails, door handles, shop shelves etc, puts them at risk of catching the virus. It still is a very frightening time for many people.

How Covid has affected our organisation

Like many others, we have tried to carry on as normal as much as possible. Staff are working from home and some were put on furlough or given slightly different jobs to do – we have all had to adapt!

Unfortunately, we have seen a drop in our income. We were forced to close our shop and conference centre; fundraising events were cancelled, and corporate supporters were unable to do what they had planned for us. Thankfully, we had an incredible response to our emergency appeal which has made up for some of the loss. We never know what the future holds, but this is true now more than ever. We will continue to review and adapt to make sure that we can provide the best possible support for our members.

How have our services changed?

We have had to make significant changes to some of our services, particularly stopping social groups and outreach work. All our services are now remote – with the exception of our care and support service which continues to operate as normal. We have recently started to run remote social groups by phone or video call. These have proved really popular and we are now running nine groups every two weeks.

We have launched a new wellbeing and emotional support service to help those who need longer term, emotional support, which has been popular. We have temporarily expanded our helpline’s opening hours to 8am – 8pm every day so that we can be there for more people, for longer.

Our request for volunteers has been extremely popular and we are now processing a lot of applications from people who have volunteered to become telephone and email befrienders

What does the future look like?

Who knows! However, we will continue to do our best to support those who need us and to reach out to help more people. We will continue to raise awareness of deafblindness and make more people aware of the condition – we are adapting the ways that we do this.

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Open Hand Magazine

Open Hand is our free, quarterly magazine containing articles and information that are tailored specifically to people with dual sensory loss.

There are very few publications designed for this specific market and so Open Hand gives its readers valuable information that they may not otherwise have known and reminds readers about Deafblind UK’s support services.

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