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Galloway’s launches focus group to help reduce sight loss amongst the BAME community

Updated: Feb 16, 2021

Photo shows Saima sat in front of her mixing desk in the radio studio. To her left is a large microphone
Saima Ashraf

Sight loss charity Galloway’s is working with other organisations to tackle the large number of people within the black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) community becoming visually impaired.

Research from RNIB shows that Asian and minority ethnic groups are at greater risk of eye diseases, compared to other groups and are more likely to go blind. Despite this, they are less likely to attend eye care appointments, allowing their sight to deteriorate.

As part of its commitment to providing relevant support to blind and partially sighted people, Galloway’s is working with Lancashire BME Network to raise awareness of the importance of good eye health.

It has also launched a focus group to work with BAME individuals and community organisations to raise awareness of the help on offer.

One of the members is Pendle community radio host Saima Ashraf, who was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa at the age of 17.

The 37-year-old from Blackburn said: “I was very pleased to hear Galloway’s was putting together a focus group to look at issues within the BAME community.

“As I am from the Asian community, I understand some of the issues and why some people do not engage and get support. I have met a lot of visually impaired Asian people who are isolated.

“The purpose of the group is to provide people with the opportunity to meet other people going through the same thing. They can share experiences and share their knowledge of other services and activities. “We are trying to inspire other visually impaired people about what can be achieved and remove them from isolation.”

This work has been supported by a grant of £5,000 from James Tudor Foundation.

Stuart Walpole, Community Outreach Sight Loss Advisor at Galloway’s, said: “We are really grateful for the grant from James Tudor Foundation, as it has enabled us to pursue our work in engaging with people from diverse backgrounds, such as those from black, Asian, Indian, Polish and other Eastern European communities.

“We know we will have to work harder to reach these communities, as from research and experience, they are less likely to seek help if they notice their vision deteriorating, meaning they are more likely to go blind. They often experience isolation, as they feel there is a stigma around asking for support.

“So we want to reach these people and talk to them about eye care and the support we can offer, so they know they are not alone.

“There may also be a language barrier, so we are working to provide a translation of our key messages so these communities have accessible information.”

Stuart is also a representative member of The Independent Race & Equality Panel (I-REP), which is a project of the Lancashire BME Network.

The I-REP represents the interests of BAME and other communities, to engage with the public sector, voluntary and other services to address marginalisation and inequalities.

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