Wednesday 3rd June 2020, NCBI (National Council for the Blind of Ireland) is pleased to welcome Minister for Health, Simon Harris to its Iona Resource Centre, Glasnevin, Dublin 9 today. Minister Harris had an opportunity to see first-hand how the Covid-19 pandemic has affected the lives of people are blind or visually impaired and as a response how NCBI and the Iona Resource Centre have rapidly adapted to respond.
Chris White, CEO, NCBI said “A recent NCBI survey found that 1 in 3 people living with a visual impairment have not left their home since Covid-19 restrictions began in Ireland. Covid-19 has left people feeling more isolated than ever and with the absence of human contact, isolation is further heightened for those living with sight loss. NCBI has revolutionised the delivery of our services to ensure provision of ongoing support to our service users is appropriate and maintained. For instance, the Iona Resource Centre has been providing and delivering thousands of meals since Covid-19 began to those who would ordinarily attend this day service.”
The reality that social distancing practices are here to stay is a source of concern and anxiety for many as engaging in social distancing is virtually impossible for people who are blind or vision impaired.
Mr White added “we urge the Minister to highlight to the general public to have a greater understanding of the challenges faced and how they can help overcome them by offering help and support in a respectful way. We all have a responsibility to ensure everyone can fully participate again in their communities now that the restrictions are easing.”
Minister Simon Harris said “Covid-19 has impacted us all in different ways. We are asking people to keep their distance to protect each other. For some, that is harder than others. Today, we are asking you to keep in mind people with additional needs, including the visually impaired. Social distancing can pose real challenges – so just in case – offer support and step aside to give people space.”
Similar to all NCBI services, the Iona Resource Centre has remained open throughout the Covid-19 crisis. It has been offering meals on wheels service in partnership with Vantastic, making daily outreach calls to service users and providing a timetable of various activities available online which has been warmly welcomed by the service users.
Again similar to other NCBI services, the Iona Resource Centre is partially funded by the HSE with the remaining funding to run the service acquired through direct fundraising and revenue raised through NCBI Retail chain.