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New Emotional Support Service

Photograph of Hayley with one of SRSBs clients

SRSB was chosen as Charity of the Year by two Sheffield businesses in 2017, and as a result of their support we have just employed a new Emotional Support Officer, Hayley Martin. Hayley is herself visually impaired, so she knows first-hand the complexities of coming to terms with sight loss.

Gripple Ltd and Barclays Bank had a full year of initiatives to raise funds for this project, and they actually exceeded their target, jointly raising over £19,000 enabling the role to be funded for two years.

The role of Emotional Support Officer is a new position at SRSB. Even though emotional support has previously been provided informally for some clients by members of staff and support groups, a need was clearly identified for a dedicated member of staff. Hayley will help the charity’s clients to adjust to their sight loss, as it recognises that dealing with this often has a negative impact on people’s mental health and general wellbeing.

People can lose their sight for a variety of reasons, it could be hereditary, degenerative, the result of accident or other illness. So people can reach a crossroads and need emotional support at different stages, for example when adjusting to sudden sight loss, or adapting to a worsening condition. SRSB has seen so many clients turn their lives around and develop a new path in life, but this is often not easy, so we are delighted that there will be a new member of the team who can dedicate their time to this important stage in people’s journey.

Hayley, explains how she was affected when her sight loss became worse, “As my day vision became worse I had to leave my job. By this time I had my children to focus on to serve as a distraction from these events. I have been luckier than some with Retinitis Pigmentosa, in that my vision deteriorated fairly slowly over this time. However, in the last few years this has escalated and emotionally I hit a low point. I realised that life was very different for me now. Even simple things were difficult. I felt my independence and confidence slipping away. My youngest child was getting ready to start school and I wanted to do something with my time but felt helpless and unsure how to move forward.” She goes on to explain the relief that she felt when she found SRSB “That first visit I remember clearly like a weight had lightened, I’d found somewhere that understood my frustrations and just as important, could help me. I met people who were going through the same experiences and feelings as me. This is a valuable thing to someone who is feeling isolated from everything they knew and is a little scared of the changes and challenges they face. I hope that by being part of the team at SRSB, I will provide people with the much needed support that I was so grateful for.”

SRSB recently opened a new sensory service in Rotherham (Rotherham Sight & Sound), which supports visually impaired people and people with hearing loss too. The new role will also offer much needed emotional support to clients in this area.

Steve Hambleton, SRSB and RSS’s General Manager explains, “This is an exceptional example of how the generosity of local organisations and their staff who decide to give their time to support a charity, can achieve a significant step forward. Our charity has always had the ethos of being there for our clients in the long term, and we always try to develop and maintain sustainable services. We certainly anticipate that this role, which was enabled by Gripple Ltd and Barclays Bank, will prove itself a valuable service that will continue long after the initial two years. So we want to thank these two businesses and their individual staff for the incredible contribution to the implementation of this role.”

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