Veterans Minister meets veterans with sight loss at Scottish War Blinded's Arbroath Lunch Group

Press Release | 03/07/2019

Scotland’s Veterans Minister and MSP for Angus South, Graeme Dey, attended Scottish War Blinded’s Arbroath lunch group at the Coast Bar and Restaurant on Wednesday (July 3), where he met with Angus veterans with sight loss.

The Arbroath lunch group – one of 17 monthly lunch groups run by the charity around Scotland – is tackling social isolation, which many Scottish War Blinded veterans say they have struggled with as a result of their sight loss.

Research carried out by Scottish War Blinded last year showed that two thirds of Scottish War Blinded members said their sight loss had resulted in them experiencing loneliness, and access to the charity’s services played the greatest role in helping them overcome social isolation.

During his visit, the Minister spoke with the members of the group, who told him about their experiences of sight loss and the difference the lunch group has made to them in bringing them together with fellow veterans living with similar circumstances.

Speaking after the lunch group, Graeme Dey MSP, Minister for Parliamentary Business and Veterans, said: “It was a pleasure to meet the Scottish War Blinded veterans at the Arbroath lunch group today.

“It was heartening to witness how these veterans are building new friendships that are flourishing into important, supportive connections in their lives.

“Scottish War Blinded’s lunch groups across Scotland are evidently life-changing for many veterans. The charity is carrying out a vital role in bringing these veterans out of the loneliness many say they experience as a result of their vision impairment.”

Scottish War Blinded Outreach worker for Dundee, Angus and Fife, Carole Martin, runs the monthly lunch group, as well the charity’s Dundee monthly lunch group at Dundee Blind and Partially Sighted Society.

And she says these social events are key for many veterans with sight loss in the area, giving them the opportunity to make new connections over a spot of lunch, free of charge.

Outreach Worker for Dundee, Angus and Fife, Carole Martin, said: “If you’re on your own and suffering with a visual impairment, you might not get anyone at your door or friends coming over for a visit, so it’s lovely to have something to look forward to.

“Before these lunch groups some of these veterans would be sitting in their house, hardly going out the door, and now this has opened the door for them for lots of activities as well.

“It makes a big difference that they are all veterans as well – they’ve all got that in common and their time in the forces is a subject they go back to. There’s no need to be alone.”

Mark O’Donnell, Chief Executive of Scottish War Blinded and Royal Blind, commented: “We were delighted to welcome the Minister along to our lunch group for veterans with sight loss in Arbroath.

“We are very pleased to be able to offer these social events in a number of locations across Scotland, uniting veterans living with a vision impairment in friendly, social environments.    

“Our research has shown that too many of our members have experienced social isolation as a result of their sight loss, and access to the services we provide is crucial to help our veterans overcome loneliness or prevent them from becoming isolated.”

Scottish War Blinded gives free support to former servicemen and women of all ages, no matter if they lost their sight during or after service.

Call 0800 035 6409 or visit www.scottishwarblinded.org to refer a veteran to the charity.