Simplyhealth has donated £30,000 to the Macular Society to help people with macular disease gain access to vital counselling services.
The Macular Society, the national sight loss charity, offers free telephone counselling by accredited counsellors which provides emotional support for people struggling to cope with the devastating effects of losing their sight.
In the UK over 200 people are diagnosed with macular disease every day. It is a profoundly isolating condition and those with this type of sight loss are seven times more likely to feel distressed or depressed.
The Society’s counsellors help people come to terms with their sight loss, regain their confidence, find ways of maintaining a positive outlook and take back control of their lives.
Simplyhealth’s recent donation will help fund the service for another year, allowing the Society to increase its number of counsellors and counselling sessions.
Jean Bowskill has experienced first-hand how the Macular Society’s telephone counselling service can have a positive impact following a diagnosis of macular disease. Jean worked as a nurse for the Foreign Office for 30 years, moving all over the world. She retired three years ago and moved back to the UK with her husband.
Sadly, shortly after their return home, Jean’s husband died suddenly. Just a few years later Jean was diagnosed with macular disease. She quickly became very isolated.
She said: “I got really down, it was very difficult. I have worked abroad for most of my life, so I don’t know many people around the area.” Jean was put in touch with her local Macular Society support group and soon heard about the counselling service. She said: “Without it I don’t know how I would have got through it. I had terrible thoughts and I’m quite honest about that. It was absolutely awful.”
Simplyhealth started supporting the Society in 2004 and has helped the organisation grow and become the largest membership group in the sight loss sector.
Last year Simplyhealth supported the Society’s volunteer befriending service, which aims to provide friendship to people with macular disease.
Roger Cotton, head of corporate giving, said: “As with many newly diagnosed conditions, there is often a knock-on psychological impact that unless addressed only adds to the impact of the condition.
“We delighted to continue our support of Macular Society by funding this invaluable counselling service, helping people with macular degeneration make the most of life by focussing on adapting to the sight loss in a more positive spirit of mind.”
Sarah Day, head of fundraising at the Macular Society, said: “We are extremely grateful to Simplyhealth for its ongoing support. The organisation is one of the Macular Society’s most generous and dedicated supporters and this recent donation will ensure this emotional support continues to be available to everyone who needs it. Macular disease can be an incredibly debilitating and devastating condition. Our counselling service provides vital support to anyone struggling to come to terms with their diagnosis.”
 Digest: How many people will be affected by AMD in 2050. Dr A. Rudnicka, Professor C. Owen. 2016. ‘For the number of incident cases, we estimate that there were 80,000 new cases of late AMD in 2015.’
 Lord, C., McManus, S. (2012) Circumstances of people with sight loss - secondary analysis of Understanding Society and the Life Opportunities Survey. NatCen, RNIB.