When Ken lost his sight he also started to lose himself
Isolation affects many older people across the UK. For those veterans living with the challenges of sight loss, this can have an even greater impact.
Ken joined the Royal Air Force in 1949 and served for nine years but, like the vast majority of those we support, lost his sight decades later due to age-related macular degeneration (ARMD).
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“At the time my sight started to go I’d been in hospital and my wife had just died, everything was going around me. I was more or less at the bottom and didn’t know how far I was going down.”Blind veteran, Ken
Feelings of isolation
It’s a sad fact that many of the blind veterans we support suffer from social isolation. It happens as we get older and our families leave us, and partners pass away. For people with sight loss, that isolation is all the more painful to bear.
It’s not just about losing other people though, with Ken it was also about being isolated inside himself. You are unable to carry out tasks such as going to the shops or even pick up a phone to speak to a friendly voice. For those who can’t see, it often leads to losing your self-belief, and – even worse – your sense of belonging.
Volunteers and wellbeing
“The first thing Blind Veterans UK did was to arrange for me to visit their training centre down in Brighton for an intro week. It was only when I came back I realised how low I had been."
Ken now regularly attends Blind Veterans UK events and we have also connected him with one of our volunteers, Liam, who visits Ken several times a week.
We have set a target to recruit even more volunteers, with a specific focus on recruiting Home Visitors, like Liam. This is crucial in helping to combat the isolation experienced by so many of our veterans like Ken.
“Just having company again did and still does make a huge difference.”Blind veteran, Ken
We support ex-Service men and women of every generation rebuild their lives after sight loss by providing rehabilitation, training, practical advice and emotional support to vision impaired veterans across the UK.
Ken’s story is an example of the difference made by the training, rehabilitation and support we provide. He has been given new equipment, like a CCTV Magnifier, which allows him to read his mail again and a specially adapted electronic tablet, which allows him to keep in touch with friends and family.