We are proud to announce our partnership with the mental health organisation, Shout, to offer free and confidential text support to blind and partially sighted people in distress.
We know that people affected by sight loss are more than twice as likely to have experienced difficulties with unhappiness or depression than the UK average. Despite this, only 17% of people experiencing sight loss are offered emotional support in relation to their deteriorating vision. Our collaboration with Shout offers a free, 24/7 text service for blind and partially sighted people to speak about how they are feeling and receive support in finding next steps.
To use the service, simply text VIP to 85258 to start a conversation with a trained Shout Volunteer who can support you with issues including anxiety, stress, loneliness, or depression. The volunteer will text you back and forth to take your next steps towards feeling better. You only need to share what you feel comfortable with, and the service is confidential.
If your life is at imminent risk, call the emergency services on 999.
How does it work?
The free, 24/7 service is available to anyone in the UK. It’s a place to go if you’re struggling to cope, all you need to do to start a conversation is text VIP to 85258. Once you’ve texted, you will receive 4 automated messages before you are connected to a someone who will listen without judgement. This will usually be within 5 minutes but if the service is busy, it may take a little longer.
Your Shout Volunteer will introduce themselves and invite you to share a bit more about what’s on your mind. This might include feeling anxious, relationship problems, bullying, addiction, self-harm or suicide, and can be anything that is troubling you. The conversations tend to last around 45 to 60 minutes and work best when you text back and forth. The goal of the conversation is to help you reach a calm and safe place, with a plan of how to support yourself and your mental health going forward.
“Having an accessible service like the text line, funded by Vision Foundation, would mean people like me can easily reach out to someone who understands what they’re going through and can support and reassure them. I would have really benefited from something like that as a young visually impaired person.”
Please help us reach more young people like Maria by making a donation to support our work.
How texters have found the service so far
- 86% say the conversation was helpful
- 59% say they texted us because they didn’t have anyone else to talk to
- 43% say it is the first time they have asked for help
“Thank you for helping me calm down and listening to me. You made me feel safe.”
“Thank you for helping me tonight. Things have been rough lately but talking to you helped a lot. I feel a lot better and the resources you provided are very helpful. I cannot thank you enough.”
Help us reach more of the visually impaired community!
Share details of the service on social media to support more of the 2 million blind and partially sighted people in the UK access mental health support. Simply liking, commenting and sharing our posts on any of the following accounts would be a fantastic support.
Or you can share a post directly on your own profiles. We’ve put together some content for you to use below! Don’t forget to add Alt Text (image descriptions) to make the content accessible to your visually impaired friends and followers.
If you need these in a different format, please email Megan at MSteinberg@visionfoundation.org.uk
Image description: A white, visually impaired teenage boy is sitting and looking over his shoulder, facing towards the camera with a straight-faced expression. He has short, sandy brown hair. Text: “Feeling sad, anxious, or overwhelmed? Talk to us. Text VIP to 85258 for free, confidential support, 24/7. Texting ‘VIP’ to 85258 is anonymous and will not show up on your phone bill. Vision Foundation and Fight for Sight, in partnership with Shout”.
Image description: An Asian, visually impaired woman in her early 20s, wearing a green blouse. She is using her phone to text in a library. Text: “Feeling sad, anxious, or overwhelmed? Talk to us. Text VIP to 85258 for free, confidential support, 24/7. Texting ‘VIP’ to 85258 is anonymous and will not show up on your phone bill. Vision Foundation and Fight for Sight, in partnership with Shout”.