Sensory loss charity takes the top award

Lindsay McDowall and Craig MacLagan from Visibility Scotland
Lindsay McDowall and Craig MacLagan from Visibility Scotland

An organisation for people living with sensory loss in the region is celebrating after scooping a prestigious award at the Dumfries and Galloway LEADER Rural Awards.

Visibility Scotland, one of Scotland’s oldest charities, picked up the gong in the Inclusive Communities category at a black tie dinner awards ceremony at GG’s Yard, Laggan.

The Dumfries-based project was recognised for its innovative work to help people living with sight and/or hearing loss in some of the region’s most isolated communities. Over the course of a two-year funded project, Visibility Scotland developed a small army of 20 volunteer “sensory inspirers” across the region, who themselves have sight or hearing loss, working with two members of staff to help deliver training and talks to community groups and organisations, as well as shadowing home visits and offering their personal insights.

“Who better to advise someone on how to overcome the challenges presented by losing their sight or hearing than someone who has already been through it?” explained Lindsay McDowall, head of services, at Visibility Scotland.

“Of course, it’s a feather in the cap for us as an organisation to receive this award and I’m delighted for us as such a small team. But I’m over the moon for our volunteer sensory inspirers to be recognised at such a level. It’s just desserts for all their hard work.

“Compassion and care is at the heart of everything that we do. This award is also about recognising our volunteers and staff: our people; our professionalism; our passion. We have been blown away by the willingness and eagerness of people we’re working with to get involved and share their experiences and knowledge.”

South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth, who visited Visibility Scotland’s Dumfries HUB recently, congratulated Visibility Scotland on their award.

Colin said: “I saw at first hand when I visited the drop-in Hub the fantastic work Visibility Scotland do to help people with sensory impairments. Both staff and the team of volunteer sensory inspirers make a real difference locally and I’m delighted that has been recognised through this Leader award.

“I’d urge anyone with a sensory impairment to get in touch with them to find out if they could benefit from this award-winning support.”

Lindsay McDowall added: “We may be seen as small, but we eclipsed the targets our funders set us of working with 90 people. Over the two-year period, we worked with more than 385 people living with a sensory impairment, providing support that aims to reduce isolation and increase confidence.”

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