COVID-19 has impacted on everyone and we were keen to find out how specifically it has impacted on the lives of our members who have sight loss. Here are some of the things which our members have told us.
Challenges around shopping and social distancing
Social distancing has made shopping a real challenge. We all have to queue up two metres apart outside of shops at busy periods at the moment. It’s difficult for our members to know where to stand as part of the queuing system. The familiarity of shopping helps our members greatly. But with queuing systems and new ways to enter and walk down aisles within shops this unfamiliarity is really difficult.
Often visually impaired people are offered assistance in supermarkets. However, with social distancing it isn’t possible for the usual assistance to be made available. This makes it challenging to navigate a shop and to find what they are looking for.
Following social distancing
We’ve also had comments from members about people complaining that they are not sticking to the two metres social distance rule even though they have obvious signifiers of a visual impairment (guide dog, white cane etc.). If you spot someone with a visual impairment, please take into account the challenges around social distancing.
Missing social events
Our members who actively attend our social events and groups have been missing out on catching up with other members. East Cheshire Eye Society has been organising group phone calls, but it is more difficult to catch-up through a video call and not everyone who attends the social events has joined the video calls. Some of our members would usually attend 2-3 groups a week and it’s a real loss to not be able to attend at the moment.
Restrictions on travel and guide dog training
It has been difficult for some of our members to keep their guide dog training consistent. With changes to the times that we were allowed to exercise and adjustments to shop opening times and access routes it has been challenging for our members to keep their guide dogs consistently trained. Without consistent training, guide dogs return to regular dogs and without them our members would lose their independence and freedom.
Keeping up East Cheshire Eye Society’s work
Even though we are all in a challenging time we are keeping our support going including services over the phone and equipment advice and support. As our fundraising events have been paused, any donations which people are able to provide are hugely appreciated. If you are able to donate, please visit https://localgiving.org/charity/eyesociety/