Bristol

Bristol blind counselling service funded for one year

A charity which offers emotional support to blind and partially-sighted people in Bristol has received funding for at least one more year.

Action for Blind People, based in Bedminster, had to find £60,000 to continue running its counselling service.

Alan Brown, who is blind and has used the service for many years, said it was "wonderful news."

The grant will fund one counsellor and four volunteers per year.

'Suicide risk'

Steve Buckall, from Action for Blind People, said: "Seventy per cent of people who've been assessed [in Bristol] have showed risks of suicide.

"This has ranged from expressing not wanting to live any more through to those who've actually made active plans to end their lives.

"At the end of this whole process that they've got from the emotional support team, we've reduced it down to about four per cent."

Alan Brown said: "When I first heard that the emotional support and care service was likely to close, it was almost like going in to a darkened room with no windows and no doors.

"But what wonderful, wonderful news we've received this year - it really is vital to us."

'Reassurance'

Andrew Batten-Foster lost sight in one eye after contracting meningitis.

He said: "To have somebody come to your home and sit there in your house and say 'I'll help you' - that's reassurance from somebody who had been through that experience themselves and has emerged the other side full of confidence, enthusiasm and encouragement.

"If I'd had to make it across to Bedminster from my house I am not sure I'd ever have gone."

The funding is being provided by Bristol City Council, South Gloucestershire Council and South Gloucestershire Primary Care Trust.

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