Lottery grant of £40,000 will support people with macular disease in Northern Ireland

Posted: Wednesday 29 April 2020

We have received a £40,000 grant from The National Lottery Community Fund to help provide an increased range of remote services following the coronavirus outbreak.

Following the suspension of all of our face-to-face services in the UK due to the outbreak, the grant funding will enable us to offer enhanced telephone and online support services to people in Northern Ireland during the lockdown period.

This will include increasing the capacity of our advice and information, telephone befriending, telephone counselling and also our working age and young people’s service, which will help address increased demand from people with macular disease who need access to our support services more than ever before.

It will also allow the Society to train and recruit additional ‘Tech Talk’ volunteers to help visually-impaired people to make the most of things like tablets, smart speakers and other useful web-based services such as online shopping, reading recipes and listening to audiobooks.

The award of this latest grant takes the total amount of funding awarded to the Macular Society by the National Lottery Community Fund Northern Ireland to £690,000 since 2009. This has enabled the Society to provide a wide range of support services all over the country and more than triple the number of peer support groups for people with macular disease in the past 11 years. In Northern Ireland, it is estimated that more than 55,000 people have macular disease, with 10 new cases being diagnosed every day.

Cathy Yelf, Macular Society chief executive, said: “We’re seeing increased demand for all of our telephone and online services at present, so this additional funding from The National Lottery Community Fund will make a huge difference.

“People affected by macular disease are often older and many have other underlying health issues. The current social distancing guidelines mean that they may feel increasingly lonely and isolated without any face-to-face contact with anyone. Our remote support services offer a real lifeline to those people, so in a situation like this when they need us more than ever, it’s absolutely vital that we’re here for them.

“We’re extremely grateful to The National Lottery Community Fund, and all of the lottery players, who’ve made this possible.”

Kate Beggs, Northern Ireland director of The National Lottery Community Fund, said: “We are delighted to support this great work, helping connect people from their own homes during what could be a lonely and isolating time. This is a great example of how groups are using Lottery funding to adapt their services so they can continue to help and support one another. National Lottery players can be proud that the money they have raised is funding this work.”

For more information on the Macular Society’s work in Northern Ireland, please contact Karen Toogood, Macular Society senior regional manager, on 02891 466 305, or email