The sight loss charity, British Wireless for the Blind Fund is heralding the success of its latest project after the innovative BWBFConnect service helped more than 600 vulnerable people with sight loss to maintain their independence and fight isolation during the height of the pandemic. The charity will now extend the program for several more months to provide ongoing support for those who are continuing to shield at home for age or health reasons.
BWBF provides specially adapted audio equipment such as DAB/FM radios free of charge to those with sight loss. It was forced to make the difficult decision to suspend face-to-face home installation services in March as a direct result of social distancing regulations. Committed to finding alternative ways to support the vulnerable and minimise isolation and loneliness, the organisation fast tracked the launch of a COVID-secure alternative, offering doorstep delivery of their devices along with telephone support during receipt, unboxing and installation of the radios.
To date, more than 600 free radios have been issued under the BWBF Connect scheme. The devices play a significant role in delivering vital news and information, along with entertainment and, perhaps most importantly of all, a friendly voice and essential companionship at a time when many people are separated from their friends and families.
Sophie Wheldon, BWBF Regional Development Manager said, “Having never attempted anything of this scale before, we were naturally unsure about whether a socially-distanced installation and support service would be possible, but we have been completely overwhelmed by the success of the scheme. We are very proud to have been able to deliver more than 600 devices to people living with sight loss at a time when they really were needed most.
“We’ve carefully listened to feedback, and we know that many of the people we support are continuing to shield, which is why we’ve made the decision to extend the adapted BWBF Connect service for the foreseeable future.”
The charity has received incredibly positive feedback during the scheme’s trial period, with one radio recipient noting that, “At first I couldn’t put on the radio stations. A BWBF team member talked me through it over the phone and he was so clear. He couldn’t have been better; patient and understanding.”
Due to social distancing regulations and an urgent need to protect the health of the vulnerable, the charity will continue to offer direct courier delivery and a telephone set-up service.
BWBF phone lines have remained open during the pandemic, and will remain open with staff and volunteers carrying out many of their duties from home to continue providing necessary support for those with sight loss.
To find out if someone you know is eligible for a free device under the BWBFConnect scheme, visit www.blind.org.uk or call 01622 754 757.
British Wireless for the Blind Fund is a national charity with a regional focus which aims to improve the daily lives of visually impaired and blind people. It provides a lifeline to the world to those who are unable to afford a specially adapted radio and who meet criteria by supplying equipment on a free loan basis. To qualify for a radio, recipients must have sight loss, and be in receipt of a means-tested benefit. The new BWBF Connect service has been instrumental in reducing isolation and loneliness during the COVID-19 outbreak, with equipment installed at-home with telephone support.