Type Charity
Location Brighton, LLandudno and Sheffield
Grant Awarded £30,000, £10,000
Date December 2014, March 2015
Website www.blindveterans.org.uk

How the charity helps veterans

Blind Veterans UK helps veterans adjust to their sight loss and lead more independent, fulfilling lives. Their services include rehabilitation, the provision of specialist equipment and training, respite nursing and residential care, welfare provision, support to facilitate independence in the home and access to a thriving sporting and social life.

Their superb work is achieved through the help of highly qualified staff at their Rehabilitation and Training Centres, in Brighton, Llandudno and Sheffield and a network of regional Welfare Officers across the UK.

Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity grant

At the end of 2014, Blind Veterans UK received a grant of £30,000 and in March 2015, received another grant of £10,000 from The Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity to assist in the provision of life altering specialist equipment. This equipment varies, from simple devices such as a liquid level indicator to enable someone to safely make a cup of tea, to the more sophisticated, for example reading aids which cost around £1500 per machine, Big board keyboards £50, screen reading software around £670.

At the time of the grant request, the Charity supported 732 veterans who served in the Royal Navy or the Royal Marines and it was expected that this number would grow by 24 per cent during 2015.

Steve, Blind Veterans UK beneficiary

Steve, 51, joined the Royal Navy in 1981 and served on HMS Plymouth, Ashanti, Antrim, Fearless and Penelope as a Writer 1'' Class until discharge in 1986. Since losing his sight in 1993, he has retrained as a physiotherapist and now has his own practice.

Steve was knocked sideways by his sight loss. He suffers from blurred vision, blind spots and sensitivity to glare and his remaining sight will get progressively worse, likely to the point of legal blindness. Given his age and that he is still working to support his family, his main fear was losing control of his business and working life. Blind Veterans UK's IT instructors have worked very closely with him to teach him how to navigate his way around Microsoft Office via the keyboard rather than the mouse which will soon be of no use to him. They also plan to visit his office to see him in situ to help him work more usefully with his own databases.

As well as IT training, Steve attended an Introductory Week at Blind Veterans UK's Brighton centre where he was provided with further equipment such as a talking mobile, a scanner for use with reading in the home and various cooking equipment. These pieces and the advice he received during the week have meant that he is now more independent in daily life and less reliant on his wife, redressing the balance in their relationship. He intends to return to the centre for additional training and is extremely grateful for all that he has gained since becoming a member.

Mike, Blind Veterans UK beneficiary

Mike, 88, joined the Blind Veterans' charity in 2014, having served in the Royal Marines in 44 Commando between 1944 and 1947. Being an ex-Marine Mike is an independent character but was keen to receive advice and assistance from Blind Veterans UK as to how he could remain independent as his sight loss worsened.

Mike attended an Introductory Training Week at our Brighton centre where he sampled a range of different equipment under the careful instruction of Blind Veterans UK's Rehabilitation Officers. Blind Veterans UK's officers were able to issue him with special UV glare shield sunglasses, a seemingly simple item but which has proved of great help, giving him increased confidence to go out and about in bright situations. He also received a talking tablet and returned for a week's IT training, during which time he learnt to how email and browse the web for information. This has not only enabled him to keep in touch with the wider world but he is also now more easily able to communicate with his family in Australia and America.

Mike has also hugely benefitted from Blind Veterans UK socially. He lives alone but has recently met other members in his area through attendance at Blind Veterans UK's local luncheon club. He also attends his local annual reunion and has this year agreed to give the return speech on behalf of the members.