Beacon Centre Link-Line service offers free befriending calls for those living with sight loss and isolation. Lisa Farlow has been volunteering with the Link-Line program for the past three years and calls several people living with visual impairments every week to provide a vital conversation.
Lisa, who lives with sight loss herself, joined Beacon after experiencing isolation following her diagnoses.
“ I was diagnosed with cerebral venous thrombosis at 28-years-old which caused optic nerve damage and a degree of sight loss. This had a huge impact on my life and meant I had to adapt. Everyday tasks from the past would now require training and adaptation. But the biggest effect was the relationship I had with those around me. I was no longer able to get out and about as much as I did in the past and over the months, I noticed I was becoming more socially isolated. Once I discovered Beacon this started to change, and I started to learn new skills and socialise with other people. However, I knew many other people living with sight loss across the region wanted to meet and talk to new people but may not be able to come to the Beacon Centre.”
Lisa heard about the Link-Line programme and started volunteering with them as a caller and noticed the difference her phone calls made immediately.
“Over time I forged relationships with those I now call friends. I do not simply call to check in on someone but lend an ear to their thoughts and views. I am not there to judge or offer one-to-one support, instead I engage in conversation and ask questions which helps them to communicate openly and talk about anything on their mind.”
Link-Line costs £1 per call and makes a huge difference to the lives of many people living with sight loss across the Black Country and Staffordshire.
“One of the most striking things I noticed was how overtime people started to open up more and more. Some of my friends within Link-Line now ask me how I am doing and how my day has been. People living with sight loss and isolation are not looking for sympathy, but an everyday conversation they would have with family and friends.
“It is amazing how much a difference talking to someone makes. I have known people who previously just spoke to the odd person in the week – be it the bus driver, shopkeeper or their GP. But following Link-Line some people have now got the confidence to find new friends and seek fresh opportunities. Some have joined social groups, attend church meetings and are proactive in their community. You can really tell the difference through their voice alone.”
The loss of sight, be it small or big, can have a huge impact on your life. Beacon helps people realise their full potential while living with sight loss.
“Beacon operates from its centre locations in the Black Country but also works in the community with schemes like this. My volunteer role with Link-Line has helped make a change in my life as well. It has given me the self-assurance I need to be more pro-active in my own life and go out a grab life by the horns. But what I enjoy the most is the satisfaction and gratitude I receive from my new friends.”