A charity that works with blind and partially sighted residents in County Durham will be able to offer extra support through an Area Action Partnership (AAP) funding grant.
Durham County Council’s 3 Towns Partnership has awarded £5,159 of its area budget to Blind Life in Durham.
The organisation is a pro-active group of blind and partially sighted people and their families or carers, who regularly arrange social events and days out where members can meet up and have fun.
However, the coronavirus pandemic has meant these regular events have not been able to take place as usual, making it difficult for blind and partially sighted people to socialise.
Using the funding from 3 Towns Partnership, Blind Life in Durham has set up a new project, ‘Keeping in Touch’, to lessen the impact of social anxiety and isolation for its members.
‘Keeping in Touch’ will arrange phone calls and Skype group calls for members, allowing them to chat with each other in group settings, hear familiar voices, and enjoy socialising.
Margaret Welch, of Blind Life in Durham, said: “Blind Life in Durham members, staff and volunteers would like to thank 3 Towns Partnership for awarding funds for the ‘Keeping in Touch’ project.
“This will allow our staff and volunteers to lessen the impact of isolation and anxiety for blind and partially sighted members within the community, during the times when travel and socialisation are restricted by coronavirus.
“‘Keeping in Touch’ will be successful because members, staff and volunteers have learned new ways to socialise through Skype and Zoom and will likely look forward to their regular meet-ups with friends.”
Cllr Brian Stephens, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for neighbourhoods and local partnerships, said: “The coronavirus pandemic has created a number of challenges for all of us, and one that has been felt most of all is the inability to safely socialise as we normally would, in order to slow the spread of the virus and protect others from its transmission.
“I am delighted that the funding from 3 Towns Partnership has been able to connect members at Blind Life in Durham in a difficult time, allowing people to socialise together and maintain their support network despite being unable to meet face-to-face.
“I am sure many members will enjoy these virtual meet-ups and find them to be a lifeline during the pandemic.”
More information about Blind Life in Durham can be found at blindlifeindurham.org.uk.
Details of the council’s AAPs can be found at durham.gov.uk/aaps.