We are very glad to be in partnership with Blind Veterans UK, a fantastic charity that goes a long way to support men and women who have served their country and are suffering from sight loss. Learn more from Victoria Copeland, Blind Veterans UK’s Corporate Relationships & Trading Manager, about how we work together when it comes to cabin crew training and some of the projects they brought to life.
Blind Veterans UK believes that no one who has served their country should have to battle sight loss alone. We support men and women of all ages who have served in the armed forces regardless of the reason for their sight loss which include combat injury, hereditary eye conditions, disease, age related conditions, accidents or trauma. We work with all our beneficiaries to help them maintain their independence and enjoy life to the full, and this includes travelling.
Partnering with Monarch has given some of our veterans the opportunity to share their experiences of long distance travel and flying on commercial airlines with the new Monarch air crews. We run a regular training programme and all new recruits get to learn first-hand from our veterans and ROVI’s (Rehabilitation Offices for the visually impaired) how best to support passengers with a visual impairment.
We teach basic sighted guiding techniques so the crew can help passengers move safely around the aircraft and give practical advice and tips on how to make flying for a visually impaired customer as pleasant, safe and stress free as possible. The feedback that we receive from the crew members is so positive, meeting the veterans is inspirational and helps to give them confidence in supporting all passengers with a disability. In the first six months of 2016 we have run twelve courses at Monarch’s bases in Luton, Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds Bradford, and Gatwick Airports supporting over 240 new air crew in learning about visual impairment and how to support those with sight loss. A recent trainee said, “I found the session extremely valuable & interesting. Colin was a real character & his stories made me laugh & also his positivity was amazing”.
Blind Veterans UK reaches out to overseas veterans to help them on their journey with sight loss.
Project Gemini brings working age veterans from the UK, US and South Africa suffering severe sight loss together. Travelling independently, staying in a new environment and meeting new people helps restore their confidence and promotes new learnings through shared experiences and peer support. The programme sets out to transform lives, instilling confidence to try something new which can be translated out of the group fun experience into new learning opportunities with career and work opportunities as the ultimate goal. The programme helps reduce feelings of isolation and is ambitious, we hope and expect veterans who’ve participated in the exchange to take the ideas and motivation home with them and help local veterans benefit from what they have learned.
We welcomed sixteen veterans to our centre in Llandudno, they came from the US, South Africa, Northern Ireland, Scotland and England. The Llandudno team arranged a varied and stimulating programme of events visits to Caernarfon Castle, the Imperial War Museum in Manchester, Beatles Tour in Liverpool, water sports at Conwy Bay, Zipwire and sky dive experiences, hovercraft driving and real ale tasting.
Staying at the Llandudno centre gave all the participants access to the fantastic training and rehabilitation facilities available there, and opportunities to share their stories and experiences in a supportive and constructive environment. For some of our visitors this was the first time they’d shared their sight loss journey with other veterans and from experience we know that the realisation that they are not alone is of great benefit.