Vital service for the blind and visually impaired set to remain open

by Rebecca Ryan
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Protest last month outside the NCBI office in Dun Laoghaire calling for it to remain open

[vc_row][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_column_text]The National Council for the Blind of Ireland (NCBI) have announced that provisions are being made for a vital service in Dun Laoghaire to remain open.

Last month Dublin Gazette reported that members of the blind and visually impaired community were devastated over the potential closure of the NCBI centre in the town, and they held a protest calling for the centre not to close.

At the time, service users said they were told they would be able to attend a centre in Tallaght, which was not an option for many because of the difficulty in getting there.

In a statement, the NCBI said following a joint review with the HSE, additional funding is being made available by the HSE to ensure that the NCBI office in Marine House will “remain open for the foreseeable future.”

CEO of the NCBI, Chris White said he acknowledged the upset the potential closure had caused service users.

“I acknowledge that the last few weeks have been upsetting for service users in Dun Laoghaire as the future of the office was unclear.

“It was never our intention to cause any distress to service users, but instead we merely wanted to utilise our resources in a way which afforded the greatest level of access to people with sight loss across the entirety of south Dublin and Kildare.

“The additional funding leaves the NCBI in the fortunate position of having two centres based on the south side of the city, resulting in an enhanced service offering.” In addition, NCBI will be opening a new purpose built and fully accessible centre in Tallaght Cross, in mid-January 2019.

White added: “Our new Tallaght centre will act as our centre of excellence on the south side for all our staff and service delivery
and reflects our commitment to providing worldclass services to the visionimpaired community in Ireland.

“Service users of our Dun Laoghaire centre will see no dilution in the services or the peer support groups currently operating, and it is the board’s and executive’s intention to see additional services being run through this centre on a weekly basis.”

An anonymous service user, who is visually impaired, told Dublin Gazette that while he is “very happy” with the news, he and others are concerned that the full service in Dun Laoghaire will not be retained.

He said: “The whole benefit to the service that was there was that if my white cane broke, I could go down and try and get it replaced straight away, or if I needed some help in getting a new talking watch I could drop into the place or telephone them.

“That kind of service if very very valuable. If they take that away it would be a significant reduction of service.”

Dublin Gazette contacted the HSE and NCBI for clarification on the concerns raised by the service user, to which the NCBI’s Chris White replied: “All services delivered and operated in our Dun Laoighaire Centre during 2018 will continue in 2019 this includes all peer support groups.

“Our staff will accommodate service requests on a case-by-case basis in Dun Laoghaire like we have done for over a decade.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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