Deafblind UK

Deafblind UK Urges Sensory Impairment Awareness During COVID-19

In the UK alone, approximately 400,000 people are affected by combined sight and hearing loss. Without these vital senses, these people rely on their sense of touch and the goodwill of others.

The mission of Deafblind UK is to help as many of these people as possible. The charity has 4,000 members on the books, but reaches far more people with a help and advice line, and free resources on its website.

The Importance of Deafblind Awareness

Clare Watson, Head of National Services, is keen to stress that it’s about more than just sensory loss.

“There are thousands of people out there who need our support but aren’t aware of our services,” she says. “Deafblindness can make you feel extremely isolated and lonely.”

“With many members in their elder years or suffering from serious conditions, loneliness is a huge concern.”

In part, Deafblind UK offers:

The Impact of COVID-19

As the UK charity sector continues to bear the brunt of COVID-19, Deafblind UK is having to adjust.

“We have seen a drop in income since the outbreak,” Clare says. “We have been forced to close our conference centre and our shop, which are two of our biggest revenue streams, and many of the events that had been planned have had to be postponed.”

“One of the biggest events on Deafblind UK’s calendar is Deafblind Awareness Week, which takes place every June to commemorate the birthday of Helen Keller.”

Keller was the first deafblind person to earn a university degree.

“This year, rather than carrying out our usual events, Deafblind UK will launch an online campaign tomake the UK deafblind friendly, publishing guidance on how businesses can adapt for those who are deafblind”

Clare Watson, Deafblind UK

“We are still encouraging people to get involved and support Deafblind UK,” advises Clare.

“This can be achieved in ways like running a Facebook birthday fundraiser or having a socially distant yard sale.”

Adjusting to the Changes

The charity costs approximately £35,000 a week to continue running its vital services. However, with the ongoing restrictions of COVID-19, outgoings are much higher.

“Many of our members have found this extremely difficult,” explains Clare.

“We’ve seen a 500% increase in requests for regular contact”

Clare Watson, Deafblind UK

“We have extended the opening hours of our helpline, which is now open from 8am to 8pm seven days a week, have launched a wellbeing service and keeping befriending/social activities as remote as possible.”

All of this takes an incredible amount of hard work and investment, while the charity is also purchasing PPE equipment, which pushes up the costs.

A Positive Future

Thankfully, Deafblind UK receives help from some corporate sponsors, including:

  • Abellio, who promote the cause across their transport network
  • Adnams’ Brewery, who ran a three-month advertising campaign inviting buyers to “round up” their purchases with a donation.

Deafblind UK is also looking forward to working with ERP providers Sapphire Systems once the lockdown period has eased off.

However, the charity always happily accepts donations from any sponsors, corporate or otherwise.

“We rely on voluntary income, so if we don’t get enough donations to support our services then we can’t carry on,” concludes Clare. “It really is vital!”

Find out more about how you can support Deafblind UK by:

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