A CHARITY in Kenilworth which has brought “massive benefits” to visually-impaired folk for more than 50 years is aiming to assist more people.
Kenilworth Reader and Visitor Service (KRVS), a free service, supports individuals who have been living with sight loss for much of their lives and others experiencing age-related visual impairment.
It offers weekly visits by friendly volunteers of up to two hours to visually impaired residents in the Kenilworth area.
Sue Ling, secretary of KRVS (Kenilworth Reader and Visitor Service), said: “Our volunteers can offer stimulation and entertainment by reading aloud from books, newspapers or magazines, provide practical help with routine admin and, perhaps, most importantly, offer company and conversation.
“We know that there are many more blind and visually impaired people in the local community who are not currently benefiting from our support. We would love to hear from anyone who has a friend or family member interested in learning more about the service.
“Increasingly, as people live longer, age-related eye disease creates different needs. Elderly people, in addition to visual impairment, are often managing other health problems resulting in isolation and loneliness which the weekly visit from our service can help to mitigate.
“All our volunteers have been carefully vetted, including Disclosure and Barring Service checks and receive training in safeguarding. Many have been volunteering with KRVS for several years and are experienced in supporting people living with sight loss.
Service user Richard Bignell explained how KRVS worked.
“My sight has deteriorated over the years to the point where I now have no useful vision. I know only too well what it is like to live in a world dominated by the use of one’s eyes, when one suffers from failing sight. I have had to learn how to cope with the challenges of a truly disabling condition.
“In 2006 I moved to Kenilworth. My wife had died and my children were living at some distance. A blind friend had told me how great the town was in so many different ways and what support existed for the visually impaired. He insisted I become a member of Kenilworth Reader and Visitor Service (KRVS) and I joined immediately. A move, which over 15 years has had a massive, beneficial effect on my life.
“I have a weekly two hour slot when volunteers visit my home. During the pandemic people kept in touch by telephone wondering what I might need, how they could help and offering true companionship.
“Why is the Service so important? Basically, the volunteers become my eyes! They assist with my post, fill in forms, write cards and read whatever I request.
“They help in any way they possibly can. Critically, they have provided true friendship and often we just enjoy a really good chat!
“The service has made a huge difference to my life and what I can do and I will be forever grateful.”
The distinguished Kenilworth academic Professor Fred Reid recalled the founding of the service.
“It was set up more than 50 years ago by Ted Herbert, a prominent Kenilworth resident, who was manager of the Youth Employment Service in Coventry.
“He was looking for volunteer service that he could offer to his young people as a route into paid employment. So he asked me if I needed anyone to read to me.
“I was then teaching at the university of Warwick and had my own army of volunteer readers already. However, I suggested that there were many blind people living alone, or with only basic support from busy relatives, who would be delighted to have someone visit them to read .
“A nod was as good as a push to a man like Ted and he went ahead to form the Service. The basic principle was that delivery should be under the control of the members. Anyone, service user or reader, could book a slot at a time of day or evening convenient to them. Anyone could cancel at reasonable notice and a substitute reader would be found if requested.
“In more than 50 years of continuous existence, KRVS has helped the blind and visually impaired in college, living alone in retirement or in residential homes for the sighted and many more.”
Contact Sue Ling, KRVS Secretary at [email protected] for further details.