How Galloway's uses technology to support people with sight loss during the Coronavirus crisis

Updated: May 5


Jean Lilley

Jean Lilley is a self-confessed technophobe who refuses to switch on a computer.

But with help from Galloway’s Assistive Technology Co-ordinator Andrew Coleman, the 73-year-old from Southport has a Facebook account; uses WhatsApp; watches TV on her tablet and has an Alexa.

The grandmother-of-seven, who only has vision in one eye, says: “During lockdown, I have had a lot of technological support from Andrew, as he talks through things at a good pace for me to understand. “He has set up WhatsApp on my phone. As he was unable to visit me because of lockdown measures, he was able to use a code to take over my phone screen and he installed WhatsApp for me. I am still getting used to it, but I will use it to video call my family.

“Andrew showed me how to access the Galloway’s website and how to find the Coronavirus support page with useful information. I am also on Facebook but I don’t really use it. Andrew has made me aware of the Coronavirus Advice and Support and Sefton Social Facebook groups, which also has useful information and it is a place I can interact with other users. Andrew will help me out with that at a later date, as I can only take in certain bits of information at a time.

“There is a barrier between me and the computer and I wouldn’t have anybody else to turn to for these things, without Andrew. He has been brilliant.”


Andrew has shown Jean how to use her Tablet

As well as technological help, the Galloway’s team is offering Jean other forms of support. She adds: “I have had phone calls from Jenny White, the sight loss advisor at Southport, to check I am okay. It is nice to have someone to chat to. I have been told about the Talking Together telephone ‘social groups’ which I may join a bit later on.

“So despite not being able to go out and visit people at Galloway’s, I do feel really well connected and supported. The sight loss advisors are always there for any problems I may have. “Sometimes I do feel a bit lonely but I am lucky compared to most people. My daughter brings me shopping and I also ring local shops and a local takeaway for delivery. I feel pretty lucky when you think how some other people on their own are struggling.”

Jean, who was the 2006/07 Mayoress of Sefton and was previously a scheme manager for Ashton Court sheltered accommodation, has been a well-known face at Galloway’s, in Southport, for many years. She had volunteered for the charity until her health declined two years ago, but she is still a regular at the Wednesday social group.

She adds: “It was nice to go every Wednesday and speak to people and play bingo, so I shall look forward to doing that again when lockdown is over. It is also hard not being able to volunteer, as I also helped out at Macmillan. But never mind, I am sure it will all go right in the end.”

The mother-of-three began to lose her sight in 1993 when it was discovered she had a blood clot behind her right eye. Her condition worsened after she developed double vision following an operation for cataracts in her left eye. She was given the option to have another operation to correct this, but did not want to do so in case of any further complications.

She says: “Two years ago, I suffered a fall, resulting in a fracture and I developed ulcers on my legs. Since then, my left eye has got worse and I have no sight in that eye at all. I only see using one eye now but it is better than some people. I am registered severely sight impaired. I just hope it doesn’t get any worse.” We are urgently trying to adapt our services to ensure support is still available to people living with sight loss across Lancashire and Sefton during lockdown. But because of the detrimental effect this pandemic is having on our fundraising, we need your help more than ever to ensure we can continue our good work and help people like Jean. To make a donation, visit https://www.galloways.org.uk/one-time-donation

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support through sight loss

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© 2018 Galloway's Society For the Blind. A charity registered in England and Wales 526088 

Head Offices: Howick House, Howick Park Avenue, Penwortham, Preston, Lanacashire PR1 0LS