Feature: Blind charity determined to help visually impaired users across Essex (From Clacton and Frinton Gazette)
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Feature: Blind charity determined to help visually impaired users across Essex
7:30am Wednesday 23rd October 2013 in News
ONE of the most frightening ideas for most people is being left in the dark as they lose their sight.
And it is becoming a reality for more and more people each year with the number of visually impaired residents across Essex skyrocketing.
There are now 45,000 recorded visually impaired people in the county – an all-time high number of people, all trying to cope with their conditions.
But a long-running charity is stepping up its efforts to support people, not just those already struggling without sight, but also people who have just been rocked by a life-changing diagnosis.
Essex Blind Charity – which rebranded last year to become Essex Sight – has centres in Clacton, Frinton, Colchester and Harwich, as well as Braintree, Brentwood and Burnham.
The sight centres have volunteers on hand to give advice on how to deal with sight-loss.
They also have a range of gadgets for people to try out that can help people adjust to everyday life without vision.
People can try out everything from liquid level indicators to talking clocks to see what works for them to ease the transition.
The charity’s fundraising boss Vanda Watling said: “We do everything we can to be there for people with help and advice, not to the specialist mention equipment exhibitions.
“It really is one of the most frightening things most people can imagine.
“A lot of what we offer is emotional support. Lots of our volunteers have impaired vision and they want to help others deal with it.
“They are in a unique situation to truly put themselves in the shoes of people struggling with this because they have experienced that same situation."
The charity also runs a host of clubs, including art and keep-fit classes, as well as a home visiting service.
But one of the most vital aspects of the charity’s work happens immediately after diagnosis.
It employs a clinic liaison officer who talks to patients moments after they receive the news that they will permanently lose their sight.
Over the last year the number of people using its services is up to more than 4,000, almost double the number of users of the previous year.
And the charity is determined to continue developing to keep up with demand.
It recently celebrated clinching a massive £210,000 grant from the Big Lottery Fund’s Reaching Communities scheme.
The cash will go towards extending the charity’s services, allowing its staff and army of volunteers to help even more people.
People can contact the charity to find out more about its services on 01206 563072.