Funding enables vunerable carers to stay connected

In order to make sure all of our carers remained connected during Carers Week (8-14 June) and beyond, Calderdale Community Resilience Fund awarded Calderdale Mental Health Carer Support £3,000 to buy 15 tablets and SIM cards to be lent to isolated carers, along with training in how to use them.

Wnw Images Landscape Kevin

This has enabled carers to be able to do things like join online peer support groups, access online shopping as well as keep in touch better with friends and family.

Kevin, a carer supported by Calderdale Mental Health Carer Support service, has been the primary carer for his wife, Janine, 51, since last year when she suffered a breakdown. He’s been registered blind since 1997 as a result of the genetic, degenerative condition retinitis pigmentosa and has less than 10% vision. Though fairly tech-savvy, Kevin struggled to find a phone that would take into account his visual impairment, which would help both him and his wife.

The Halifax Society for the Blind lent Kevin a Synapptic phone, designed for the visually impaired. However, the cost to buy his own phone was upwards of £350 so his support worker at Calderdale Mental Health Carer Support successfully contacted Calderdale Council to secure funding.

Now his new phone talks him through basic instructions for navigating his way around it, it has a magnifying glass app, access to talking books and a location finder that will tell him what street he’s on.

Kevin said: “If you’re using an iPhone, for example, you have to double-tap all the time and, while Siri is useful, you don’t always get the answers you want – as evidenced by the time I texted a friend and asked if they were coming over to kidnap me.”

"Connectivity is vitally important for all of us during lockdown but even more so for those with additional needs."

One of real highlights for Kevin is the Be My Eyes app, which connects visually impaired people with visual assistance volunteers through a live video call.

He said: “I knew of a man who was trying to navigate Heathrow, and someone in Northern Ireland was able to talk him through where the right steps were. It’s really incredible.”

For someone in Kevin's position, technology can make a huge difference.

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