Charity offers advice for the visually impaired as cost of living rises

Charity offers advice for the visually impaired as cost of living rises

Southend in Sight outlines help available for those living with sight loss

The cost of living crisis is affecting everybody at the moment, however, research from the Royal National Institute of the Blind (RNIB) has found that 1 in 5 visually impaired or blind people say they had either some, or great difficulty making ends meet even before this crisis began. It is for this reason that Southend in Sight, Southend’s local, independent sight loss charity, is offering advice for the visually impaired to help them through these economically challenging times.

Visually impaired people are more reliant on benefits than the general population, with just 1 in 4 blind or partially sighted people in employment. They can also incur extra living costs such as a greater need for taxis, the need for paid services and support in the home, additional lighting in the home and assistive technology. These necessary costs together with the current overall increases in food, transport and fuel costs are both heavily impacting visually impaired people’s lives and standard of living.

Many blind and partially sighted people are not aware that they may be entitled to certain non means tested benefits such as Attendance Allowance or Personal Independence Payment.  This regular payment could help towards taxi journeys, food bills, a cleaner or a gardener, etc.  There are other means tested benefits that may also be of help. Being registered as Sight Impaired (partially sighted) or Severely Sight Impaired (blind) means a person may be entitled to certain concessions too. To be registered, a person’s vision needs to meet the criteria for a Certificate of Visual Impairment.  This can only be completed by a hospital consultant but once this is done, a local authority can then add a person to its register of the visually impaired.

Southend in Sight’s Sight Loss Advisor Coralie West can offer help and advice over the phone or in person at the charity’s Resource Centre on Hamlet Court Road in Westcliff. She said “There is support and help available if people are struggling with rising costs and we are always happy to offer advice to people living with sight issues or their families. It could make a significant difference and take the stress and worry out of everyday costs. Contact us by phone, email or in person and we will try to help.”

As well as advice on offer from Southend in Sight, there are other places to find help. The Citizens’ Advice Bureau can be contacted on 0344 477 08 08. They have information about getting support from local councils and about local food banks.

The RNIB has a cost of living factsheet which can be obtained by calling their helpline on 0303 123 9999.

Age Concern also offer support on benefits and can be reached locally on 01702 345373.

There are a variety of websites with useful information which family or friends of the visually impaired may find useful:

https://www.rnib.org.uk/advice/money-benefits-finance   https://www.sightadvicefaq.org.uk/money-benefits/benefits/COL  https://www.entitledto.co.uk/

https://www.gov.uk/the-warm-home-discount-scheme/energy-suppliers

The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has recently announced some measures to help with the increased cost of living (COL) including:

– one off £650 (COL) payment for means tested benefits

– one off £150 (COL) disability payment for those on non-means tested benefits (such as Attendance allowance & PIP personal independence payment)

– one off £300 Pensioner extra winter fuel payment

– £400 grant for all households to support with energy bills

Southend in Sight is currently open for booked appointments at its base at 117 Hamlet Court Road or can be reached by phone on 01702 342131 or email info@southendinsight.org.uk.

Jamie Langstone
JLangstone@savs-southend.co.uk