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Message from Margaret Grainger, Chief Executive.

Margaret

None of us could have predicted what 2020 would bring, and here at BWBF we are doing all we can to keep going during the Covid-19 crisis. The team here at BWBF have been determined to keep supporting our recipients though the pandemic and I am very proud of how everyone has pulled together to adapt during this difficult time.

Our phone lines have remained open, and the team are carrying out their duties from home, making the most of technology to keep in touch.

At the beginning of the crisis, we had to make the difficult decision to cease all home visits and face-to-face services. This meant that we had to come up with another way to make sure that people living with sight loss were still able to receive our specially adapted devices. Our Regional Team came up with the idea of the BWBFConnect project and we trialled it straight away. As you will see from the rest of this report, it has been an unprecedented success.

We are so pleased that we have been able to support some of the UK’s most vulnerable people during the Covid-19 crisis. We are very aware that our service will need to continue to adapt for many months and we are committed to ensuring the safety and health of our staff, volunteers and recipients whilst continuing to support those with sight loss.

May I take this opportunity to thank our supporters and volunteers for their unwavering support.

Margaret Signature

Updated 04.08.20

“Lockdown has been
so difficult for me, the
radio has helped me so
much, thank you.”

“Thank you very much
for arranging the
wonderful gift of a
Concerto 2 radio.”

“You put the TV on
and all you get is
sadness 24/7, the radio
is a respite from Covid.
It gets overpowering
when you’re by
yourself and can’t talk
to anyone.“

“I’m thrilled to bits with
my radio.”

“Having this radio means I can read my books and listen to music, which is a
comfort.”

“At first I couldn’t put on the radio stations but Steven talked me through it over the phone and he was so clear. He couldn’t have been better; patient
and understanding.”

About BWBF connect

We are pleased to report that we have been able to continue to provide our specially adapted devices to those living with sight loss during the Covid-19 crisis.

Our range of devices allows the listener to access a wide variety of audio, including radio, music, talking books, talking newspapers, podcasts and much more. Ordinarily this equipment would be delivered to the recipients’ homes by a volunteer who would provide set up and instruction. However, due to social distancing, this is no longer an option. Therefore, at the beginning of lockdown, we launched BWBFConnect – a revised version of the normal service. This saw us adapt how we support our beneficiaries, many of whom are amongst those most at risk from the virus.

BWBFConnect enables the recipient to receive adevice via a doorstep delivery. They then receive a phone call from a member of BWBF’s team who talks them through the set up and answers any questions they may have, ensuring that they get full use of the equipment.
BWBF beneficiaries are already some of the mostsocially isolated people in the country. The Covid-19crisis has only made this much worse for many. This is why it is so important that we have found a way to continue to provide our equipment to blind and visually impaired people across the UK.

BWBF radios are vital to someone who cannot see – they provide news, information and entertainment but also, more importantly, companionship and a friendly voice. This is all the more important at the moment. Hundreds of devices have already been delivered to blind and visually impaired people across the UK andthe feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. We are delighted that we have been able to bring some respite during this difficult time and we thank our supporters and volunteers for their ongoing help and assistance.

Where we have helped people with sight loss during the Covid-19 crisis

Connect Map

Updated 04.08.20

Coronavirus updates

Firstly we would like to extend our sincere thanks to all our supporters for the generosity they have shown to the work of British Wireless for the Blind Fund. Your belief in what we do to improve the lives of blind and partially sighted people in communities across the UK is what makes our work possible.

At this uncertain time, we fully understand that some people may be wary of handling post. We have therefore – to ensure the safety of our donors and supporters – made the decision to limit any risks by communicating, as far as is practicable, by e-mail.

Following government guidelines we have closed our head office and, while we are all still working hard from home to help those already isolated across the UK, there could be a delay to us receiving post. We will endeavour to reply to any correspondence, and any kind donations, as soon as we can.

If you would like to change or check any of the contact details we hold for you please do get in touch via mydata@blind.org.uk

We are also committed to the safety of our recipients and volunteers. For further information on how the lockdown has affected our work with recipients please continue to visit our website which we are updating as the situation progresses.

Once again everyone at British Wireless would like to express enormous thanks for your continued support of our work. No doubt in the coming year, as we face unprecedented challenges, we will need it more than ever.

Updated Thursday 19th March Due to the continually evolving landscape we currently find ourselves in, we have had to take the difficult decision that until further notice we are only able to provide support for our existing beneficiaries. 

With the uncertainty surrounding postal and courier deliveries coupled with not being able to provide the one to one service we pride ourselves on we are unable to guarantee all links in the supply chain be available to us. 

We would hate to be promising lifelines for those in need only to have the rug pulled from underneath us at the last moment.

All of our telephone customer support lines 01622 754757 will remaining open and we are also in the planning stage of implementing an additional helpline offering a friendly voice at the end of the line for information, advice and companionship during these quite unsettling times. 

We will be able to take new beneficiary enquiries but as I am sure you will all understand, will not be able to put a timeline on when these would actually be fulfilled.

We would like to reassure our wonderful supporters, without whom none of our work would be possible, that we remain absolutely committed to being there for visually impaired people across the UK. We need your help more than ever to allow us to grow and adapt as we may need in the coming months.

Please bookmark this page and keep checking back for all future updates to our service

For health information and advice, read the NHS pages on coronavirus

Learn about the latest government response to coronavirus on GOV.UK

Updated Monday 16th March 2020 - In what is an ever evolving and uncertain situation we are having to make equally unusual and difficult decisions with regards not only safeguarding our team, our family of volunteers and our beneficiaries but how we operate day to day.

We understand many of you will have anxieties and concerns and we can assure you that we will be doing all we can for as long as possible to give you the same level of service from us you are accustomed to. 

We will not be receiving visitors to our Maidstone head office nor will we be able to accept deliveries, returns or post that needs signing for.

We are hoping to maintain full telephone customer service 01622 754757 for as long as possible. There may however come a time where this becomes untenable due to staff shortages or other circumstances beyond our control. We will have email and live messenger support via our website www.blind.org.uk  available daily.  Live online chat will be available between 9am-5pm Monday to Friday.

If you do need to contact us please be aware that you may not get an instant response for this period  and we will be operating a 48 hour reply policy, similar to how we operate at a weekend.

We hope you understand why we have needed to take such actions to ensure the health and well-being of everyone at British Wireless and appreciate your patience.

For the most up to date Government advice visit GOV.UK

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance/stay-at-home-guidance-for-people-with-confirmed-or-possible-coronavirus-covid-19-infection