'Being able to talk to people who understand is a lifeline'

Posted: Friday 22 May 2020

Lottery players are helping to give a lifeline to hundreds of thousands of people across the UK.

Thanks to lottery players up to £600m of funding from The National Lottery is being distributed over the next few months to people affected by the outbreak – including those with macular disease.

The Macular Society recently received a £40,000 grant from The National Lottery to adapt and increase our services in Northern Ireland during this time, after all of our face to face support services were suspended. 

The funding will mean we can continue to support volunteers like Elaine Orwin and members of her support group. 

Elaine Orwin, 57, was born with a macular dystrophy and has been involved with the Society for 10 years. She said: "My parents were told there was little hope, but I was stubborn and taught at primary school for 25 years."

She added: "When I retired I faced the next chapter with real anxiety, but the Macular Society brought me together with others who understand what it is like. I’ve now run the Bangor peer support group for eight years. Macular disease affects your physical health. You often can’t drive so you lose your independence, but our group of 30 is a lifeline. We used to meet monthly, but since lockdown it’s fortnightly virtual meetings. I’ve also referred people for phone counselling. The contact we have had is really precious. The charity is planning to launch a befriending service and webinars. They also run a Tech Talk project, helping people to use computers and access audio description on their TVs." 

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.”

To find out more about our support services, contact our Advice and Information Service on 0300 3030 111.