Seafarers UK supports the work of Blind Veterans UK

6 January 2014 11:30

Seafarers UK kindly donate significant sum to Blind Veterans UK to support the work of introductory weeks for Royal Navy and Royal Marine veterans.

We are delighted to announce that Seafarers UK have given £30,000 to Blind Veterans UK to support the work of our introductory weeks at our three centres in Brighton, Llandudno and Sheffield for Royal Navy and Royal Marine veterans.

We estimate that 139 new blind and vision impaired former Seafarers will join Blind Veterans UK in 2014 and the donation we have received from Seafarers UK will enable us to provide each of these veterans with the support and individual training to live life beyond sight loss.

One of the first steps for a veteran who has recently joined Blind Veterans UK is to take part in an introductory week. The five day programme gives veterans the opportunity to learn skills to cope with sight loss. Upon arrival at their chosen training centre, in Brighton, Llandudno or Sheffield, each veteran meets with their own rehabilitation officer and over the course of the week they will create a customised support package and determine any training needs.

One of the key elements of our introductory weeks is skills training. The programme allows veterans to develop or rekindle skills which they may not have thought possible with sight loss such as preparing food and cooking, IT skills, letter writing and much more. Our introductory weeks also allow our beneficiaries to try new hobbies such as art and craft and sports such as archery and acoustic rifle shooting.

Introductory weeks take place with a group of blind veterans which gives each individual to meet others in the same situation as themselves, and can often result in lifelong friendships and a real sense of camaraderie.

As the introductory weeks progress each veteran will have an individual training plan developed for them and will be assessed to see what equipment will make the biggest impact of their day to day lifestyle. Typical equipment includes big-key keyboards, liquid level indicators and electronic scanners which scan text, such as correspondence and newspapers and read them aloud. 

Our introductory weeks are very much a defining moment for veterans coming to terms with their vision impairment and have been described by one veteran as: "The specialist staff put together a training programme tailored to what I wanted to achieve. I learned how to live independently and joined in different sports and social activities - meeting other people who had overcome sight loss and come out smiling. It was a lifeline and the start of me regaining my self-esteem."