Deafblind UK expands services in London

Deafblind UK is expanding into new areas of London to help eliminate isolation amongst the increasing number of people in the capital with a combined sight and hearing loss.

The national charity’s befriender services, which are successfully established elsewhere in the UK, promote better mental health and wellbeing by reducing the feelings of isolation often experienced by those who are deafblind[1].

Deafblind UK’s London Outreach Project is  working closely with people across London and carefully linking them with an appropriate volunteer ‘befriender’ to meet their specific needs, whether this is through regular face-to-face meetings, phone calls or exchanging emails.

Sue Sinton Smith, Deafblind UK’s new Community Services Officer (London Outreach Project) at Deafblind UK said: “The London Outreach Project is a great initiative within the community. We are identifying those with a sight and hearing loss who feel isolated due to their disability and who have lost the confidence to go out and enjoy activities they once did.

“Our new volunteer befrienders will be starting shortly and are really looking forward to getting to know the members and finding out what they would like to do and how they need supporting. Each pairing will be slightly different as the member and volunteer decide together what will work best for them.

“It’s great to be involved in a project which can make a real difference to people’s lives. It’s lovely meeting our members and volunteers and I really enjoy deciding who will get on well together”.

Sue is initially focusing on the boroughs of Camden, Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster and aims to identify as many people as possible with a combined sight and hearing loss and invite them to take up free membership of Deafblind UK. Members not only benefit from the Befriender Service, but also receive: access to the charity’s free Information and Advice Line; support for carers; a quarterly magazine in accessible formats; plus birthday and Christmas cards.

                                                      Total population                        Number of deafblind people

Camden                                          141,900                                                618

Hammersmith and Fulham          85,800                                                413

Kensington and Chelsea                95,000                                                837

Westminster                                  165,000                                               861

Based on an estimation tool developed by Professor Eric Emerson, as part of his report, “Estimating the Number of People with Co-Occurring Vision and Hearing Impairments in the UK” (http://www.sense.org.uk/publications/regional-data-future-deafblind-population-london)

[1] Four basic groups of deafblindness: People born deafblind (congenitally deafblind); People born deaf who later lose their vision; People born blind who later lose their hearing; People who acquire a sight and hearing loss, often in later life.