- Tuesday, 24 January 2012
Whether it's helping an elderly blind woman claim an extra £50 a week in benefits or making sure a partially sighted caller doesn't end up homeless, the Royal National Institute of Blind People's (RNIB) Group helpline is a vital source of advice and information to thousands of people every year.
Tomorrow (25 January, 2012) RNIB will lift the lid on calls received to the helpline by sharing a selection with its 7,000 plus twitter followers. In 100 tweets RNIB will aim to give a glimpse into the varied and sometimes unexpected calls dealt with by our helpline staff.
Enquiries include advice on the best mobile phones currently on the market to what a person's legal rights are when visiting a local restaurant with their guide dog (for further examples, see notes to editors).
Enquiries frequently come from concerned friends or family of a loved one who has been newly diagnosed with sight loss. Often they'll want to know more details about an eye condition and to chat about what the future holds. Whatever the enquiry, it's all in a day's work for RNIB's helpline staff. However, calls can sometimes be a bit more light hearted. A man recently called requesting only to be sent Talking Books which have a nice ending and a woman called asking where she could buy a duvet cover.
Andy Barrick, RNIB Head of Membership and Info Services, said: "The RNIB Group helpline offers advice and support to tens of thousands of people each year. Callers are not just blind or partially sighted people but can be friends, family, employers or other professionals. Often people call the helpline upset or frustrated, not knowing where to turn for support. We aim to help no matter what the query. Sometimes it's an issue RNIB can resolve, but we also signpost people to other services or sources of advice."
At 19, Jill was at the threshold of her career, and the rest of her life. Then she developed diabetic retinopathy, and in a matter of weeks, she had lost her sight.
The effect of her sight loss was terrifying and devastating. Jill didn't know where to turn. Like many of the 100 people who begin to lose their sight every day, Jill found it hard to find the right information to help her, which was really frustrating.
"It was easy to feel isolated. And it was very hard to get information," she said.
Jill contacted RNIB's helpline and staff helped her to find the right appliances to help around the house. The advice team suggested products that would help her continue her education and become more independent.
She added: "The helpline is invaluable. There are so many times I've used it, for so many different things. It's brilliant that there's someone at the end of the phone who can say 'this is the person you need to talk to, they'll be able to help you out.'
With RNIB's support, Jill excelled at university. Not long after graduation, she secured a job at RNIB's Insight Radio. Now confident and successful, Jill reaches out to thousands more blind and partially people, through her work at the station.
The helpline services cost RNIB Group £1.5million per year to run. Without it we couldn't help people like Jill. Please donate today at www.rnib.org.uk/jill
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