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Health and Social Care
Royal National Institute of Blind People Northern Ireland
Need to Talk provided a cross-border counselling service and confidence building programme for people affected by sight loss throughout Northern Ireland, the Border Region of Ireland, and Western Scotland.
One minute I was leading an active independent life teaching P1, driving the school minibus and managing the over 50s Irish Masters Hockey team and then the majority of my sight just went overnight.
I felt those six weeks were so important for me. I sat beside a lovely lady called Louise and we started to talk and built up a great friendship. We text each other all the time and now meet up for coffee.
Need to Talk provided a cross-border counselling service and confidence building programme for people affected by sight loss throughout Northern Ireland, the Border Region of Ireland, and Western Scotland (Ayrshire & Arran and Highlands & Islands). It addressed the social isolation and emotional distress often experienced by people with sight loss, and which is exacerbated in rural isolated areas where people are reliant on very limited public transport services to access support. The project benefitted over socially isolated 1,900 individuals of all ages.
Gillian Jackson, from Moira attended the Need to Talk Living with Sight Loss course in Lisburn in November 2018. She had a condition known as keratoconus, which involved her undergoing regular cornea transplants over a 25-year period. Despite losing the sight in her right eye after an unfortunate complication during surgery, Gill still had perfect sight in her left eye until her cornea failed and overnight, she had to accept the reality of becoming partially sighted. A mum of two and primary school teacher for over 30 years, Gill was determined to remain upbeat, although she admitted to struggling. Gill’s social worker recommended she attended the Need to Talk course to help her build new confidence and skills.
Gill learnt to do things for herself and enjoyed talks on transport; home security; benefits; counselling; and opportunities in sport and local groups. She was even inspired to get involved in the Hillsborough Castle and Gardens Community Access Scheme, amongst others.