Hi, Maria here. I’m the programme manager for Book Clubs at Living Paintings and would like to chat about how Living Paintings is working to end isolation for blind and partially sighted adults in the UK.
“One million people will go for a month without speaking to anyone”: this is a frightening statistic from Age UK. Whether you live alone or live with someone, it’s still possible to feel lonely and isolated.
Feeling sad and anxious about going out is another issue many older people face. The definition of isolation is a feeling of not belonging and not feeling involved. Often people are thrown into this situation because of the decisions of others, the loss of family, loved ones or having to move home.
Over the last year I’ve met so many wonderful club members who are blind and partially sighted and have listened to some truly inspirational stories. Some members have been blind since birth, others have lost their sight later in life. They have all mentioned that at first they find it difficult to meet people due to lack of confidence and the inability to travel to local clubs and services.
I recently asked a member who had been blind all her life what our group sessions meant to her. She said:
“For me, it is a life saver. I have lost all my family and loved ones in my life. I am all on my own. I need to get out and be around people. Without these groups I would be very lonely, I have to say. I do as many groups as I possibly can so that I have a reason to get out there in the community. By coming to these clubs it makes me feel more confident, definitely and much happier! It really is something to look forward to every week. You know you are going to see people who are all friends. They’re my family!”
I have noticed that lack of transport is still a main barrier to attending Book Clubs and it is so easy to forget all about this; it’s a simple thing to so many people and yet a real issue for others. I for one know how volunteers, whether they are drivers or providing support and companionship, are invaluable to club members who are blind or partially sighted. Without them, many more people with sight loss would be left feeling isolated and alone.
If you are reading this and you want to make a difference to someone’s life you can volunteer to help the Touch to See Book Club service. Do get in touch with me on 01635 299771 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.