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Welfare Rights service for people with sensory loss

RNIB Cymru is delighted that the Big Lottery Fund has awarded £940k for an innovative welfare rights service for people with sensory loss in Wales. The service has been designed to address the barriers that people with sensory loss face ensuring access to information, support and advice that is delivered when, how and where people need it.

This brand new service will help mitigate the impact of Welfare Reform for some of the hardest to reach and most vulnerable people in Wales, tackling the poverty, financial and social exclusion that people with sensory loss face. Two out of three people previously supported by RNIB Cymru were under-claiming benefits.

The Wales-wide project will support more than 5,000 people who have sight or hearing loss to claim the benefits they are entitled to. RNIB Cymru will deliver the service in partnership with Action on Hearing Loss Cymru, Sense Cymru and Deafblind Cymru.

The new advisors will help people to fill in forms, challenge benefits awards and decisions and will also represent people at tribunals. People with sensory loss have helped design the service to ensure that it is truly person centred. The service will be delivered digitally, on the phone, face to face and at home.

Ceri Jackson, Director of RNIB Cymru said, “I’m delighted we’ve secured this funding from the Big Lottery Fund, it will make a huge difference to the lives of people with sensory loss. It is particularly welcome at a time when we have experienced cuts to services across the UK and people are facing significant challenges in such a difficult financial climate.

A third of blind and partially sighted people live in poverty, many do not claim the welfare benefits they are entitled to because of difficulties in the process, lack of awareness, fear of being labelled.

This bespoke specialist service, designed by people with sensory loss will be run by highly qualified staff who will also be experts in sensory loss. This service will increase independence and quality of life for thousands of people across Wales”

Richard Williams, Director of Action on Hearing Loss Cymru said, “Many deaf people don’t know about the benefits available to them and the current advice services aren’t always accessible to deaf people.

“This project aims to fill the gap between deaf people and the benefits they are entitled to.

“It’s essential we work with RNIB on schemes such as this, to enable people with hearing and sight loss to live independent lives.”