People living with sight and hearing loss in Dumfries and Galloway have welcomed the news that a local charity has received a three-year funding boost of  £123,993 to continue to deliver and develop services across the region.

Visibility, which has been helping people living with sensory loss for 160 years, today announced a National Lottery award from the Big Lottery Fund to support their work and services across the region.

Morag Faichney, 43, is one of Visibility’s 20 volunteer “sensory inspirers” who themselves have a sight and/or hearing impairment and will help staff by offering their personal insight into what can help.

She said: “I feel like we’ve won the lottery. This is such fantastic news for people across the region. Visibility helped me see there was still so much I could do or could learn and readjust to, and I’m delighted to be able to give back and offer my experience to others. Whether you are living with sensory loss, or perhaps caring for a friend or family member coming to terms with a sight or hearing impairment, news of this funding means that help and support is available right here in Dumfries and Galloway.”

Lindsay McDowall, Head of Service for Visibility in Dumfries and Galloway, added: “This funding will enable us to build on our existing services for people with vision and hearing impairments across the region and build connections within communities.

“We hope to create local drop-ins or hubs in each of the four locality across Dumfries & Galloway, where people will be able to speak with staff and sensory inspirers to get advice on the latest equipment and technology, get emotional support, practical advice or chat with someone who has the same lived experience and has overcame the challenges and obstacles presented by their sight or hearing impairment.

“People will also get to hear about other services in their local area and can be signposted to other organisations for additional support plus find out what’s going on generally in their local area. The aim is that they leave feeling better informed and connected to their communities, tackling loneliness and isolation.

“We have been blown away by the willingness and eagerness of people we’re working with to get involved and share their experiences and knowledge. Who better to advise someone on how to overcome the challenges presented by losing their sight or hearing than someone who has already been through it? We hope each local drop-in will become the go-to place in your community to speak with someone about their sensory loss.”

Lindsay added: “For those hard to reach people who may live a distance from services or find it difficult to attend one of the hubs or drop-ins, one-to-one visits can be carried out by Community Workers, offering information, advice and practical support at home.”

The charity has worked with hundreds of people across the region, demonstrating and loaning assistive technology, facilitating seven peer support groups across Dumfries and Galloway and offering emotional support to those struggling to come to terms with their diagnosis.

Big Lottery Fund Scotland Chair, Maureen McGinn, said: “I am delighted that Visibility has been successful in securing a Big Lottery Fund grant. The funding will make a big difference where it is needed most and I wish the Visibility every success as it goes on to develop and expand its project for the benefit of their local community.”

If you would like to find out more about how Visibility can help you, a friend, family member or neighbour living with a visual impairment, please call Visibility on 01387 267 131 or email seehear@visibility.org.uk Pictured: Dumfries and Galloway residents Anne Dickie, Tommy Donnelly (with guide dog Peter), Avril Dunlop, Morag Faichney, Charlotte Bennie (with guide dog Christie), Mia Glendinning (Visibility Area Coordinator) and Colin Lind.