Emergency NOISE Autumn 2020       Corona Virus Update: 18th November 2020

Dear Friend. We hope that you are keeping safe and well. We're aiming to update our website at least every fortnight, so please check back here for the latest news.

When will our offices re-open? We understand the extra difficulties during the current times. Safety is our main concern. All of our support is for people who are vulnerable, including some who are particularly so. Therefore, we need to take more care than many organisations. Our phone lines (01670 514316) are now open part-time.

Our office remains closed. Please do not attend without an appointment. We have undertaken careful risk assessments and adjustments have been made. These help staff to work part-time on key tasks to ensure we can continue as much as possible of our important work now, and once we can re-open. We are finding ways to undertake some service development to help prepare for future re-opening and a new-look NCBA!

To keep everyone safe, we must limit the centre to staff and those with a specific appointment, and visitors should leave as soon as their appointment is completed. Thank you for your understanding.

When will our activities re-start? We share the desire of our clients to re-start activities. Our social groups and other activities have been bustling hubs and we look forward to when we can once again enjoy sharing each other's company! With all of our support being for people who are vulnerable, we must take extra care. In the meantime, many of our people are finding creative solutions! Please see the article below about Ponteland social group :)

Donations: These provide a crucial lifeline to us. There is a link to Donate on this page. Alternatively, please just use our bank details: Name: NCBA; Sort Code 77-20-37; Account 03625260. Please include 'Donation' in your reference. Thank you.

TV Licence Concession: Many clients have been understandably asking how they can get their registration number to apply for their discount. Plesase be aware that we do not have copies of your CVI or BD8 certificate. Your registration number will be issued by Northumberland County Council and you should have been issued with a card. Information about your CVI is usually held on your GP records, so you could request a copy of this.

A Big THANK YOU all clients and their helpers who completed and returned our Autumn Client Survey. Around half of those sent have already been received!! All surveys received by midday on 11th December will be entered in a draw for a chance to win one of several great prizes in our Autumn raffle. Thank you, and good luck!

PS If you haven't returned your survey and would like us to send another, please call us!


We received lottery funding to purchase boxes for 557 of our clients, to send some cheer to our VIP clients and friends during this difficult covid period. Many of our clients live alone, and covid has caused so much isolation and anxiety.

Our boxes took much hard work from our wonderful staff, so a BIG thank you to them!

We have been overwhelmed by thank you cards and messages, lots of people telling us things like “its glad to know someone cares”; “it brought a tear to my eye”; "I am 97 and live alone, this meant so much knowing someone is their for me.”

We are here for all of our clients, and will do our best to support you in anyway we can during and beyond this difficult time. If you need us, or know someone who does, please contact us.

If you can donate to help us reach more people then please see on this page how to donate. Julie Boyack, Chief Officer

Here's Susan just before we sent the boxes out, and a small sample of some of the lovely cards and messages we've received. We are so pleased these boxes have brought some cheer to members of our community!

Audio Books: We have a small selection which we can send clients. Most books are on CD, and there are also MP3 files and even a few on cassette. If you are interested, please contact Helen at NCBA (01670 514316). For MP3 files you will need to send Helen a USB stick to be copied on to. These can be obtained from Calibre, RNIB, or many shops.

Client Connect - A new name for our Telephone Contact Service ...

Our fantastic team of volunteers (made up of individuals and groups, as well as volunteers from Lions, HealthWatch, Age UK, Alzheimers Society, and NCC) continues to to keep in contact with our vulnerable service users. Thank you as always to them all. Our new name reflects our desire to make our service more proactive, introducing more and better ways of keeping in touch with our clients throughout the year.

Volunteers are returning to work or other activities: About half of our phone service volunteers have not been able to continue to give their time to calling our clients, though some are kindly continuing with a smaller number of clients. We welcome many new volunteers to our service, and are always looking for more! 

Please read further for an unusual impact of lockdown on just some of those volunteers! We are grateful for the valuable support of all volunteers, past and present, and wish them all well.

Would you like to be called? If you would like us to allocate a volunteer to call you, please let us know using the contact details in point 4 below and we will arrange this as soon as we can.

New volunteers:  We welcome volunteers who have recently joined our team. They are helping to ensure continuity of support for clients who have asked for this. We always need more volunteers, and would love to hear from you if you would like to join our phone service. Please use the contact details in point 4 below.

We would like to say a HUGE thank you to the Greggs Foundation for awarding us a grant to continue to deliver our much needed Client Connect service. Thanks to them we can continue to bring some comfort to our clients through our much valued volunteers, connecting with people and making life a little easier during this pandemic and beyond. 

Some useful contacts are shown below:

  1. For emergency support, telephone the Local Authority on 01670 536400‚Äč

  2. For help with things like transport to your GP, essential shopping, etc., please call the Northumberland Community Response team on 01670 620015

  3. If your matter is not urgent and someone is already contacting you (e.g. as part of a group or you already have someone assigned to you) please contact them

  4. If you do not already have someone contacting you and would like us to arrange this, please phone NCBA (01670 514316) or email Barry Frost at barry.frost@ncba.org.uk. We have tried to call every single one of our clients we have a phone number for, so if you haven't heard from us it could be because we do not have your current contact details. Please do get in touch to let us know.

  5. If you are blind or partially sighted and are struggling with your mental wellbeing (or you know someone who is) and would benefit from a one-off session of support to deal with difficult feelings generated, or worsened, by the current situation then please call RNIB on 0303 123 9999. For tips, advice and resources to support maintaining good mental health Click here to visit RNIB's website 

Please look after yourself and make sure you follow the Government Advice.

We will be back as soon as we are able to. From the Team at Northumberland County Blind Association

In the mean time, please check out the following:


We are pleased to say that we have been officially approved as a Disability Confident Employer until 2023!

A couple of really useful newsletters from two of our sister organisations

Vision Support are a charity that does many similar things to NCBA, but in the Chester and North Wales area. They've also been working with some of the amazing partner organisations like Lions, to provide services similar to our Client Connect. Vision Support published a really useful newsletter last month and have kindly let us share it with you here:

http://www.ncba.org.uk/site/assets/uploads/Vision Support - Sept 2020 Lions Newssheet.pdf

For more information on Vision Support, including how to contact them, please visit their website: http://visionsupport.org.uk/

Healthwatch Northumberland provide a wide range of services to support people who use Health and Social Care services. They've kindly been helping us out with our Client Connect service, and were particularly amazing at contacting clients we'd been unable to make contact with. Their latest newsletter is available via the following link:

http://www.ncba.org.uk/site/assets/uploads/Newsletter October 2020.pdf

For more information on Healthwatch Northumberland, including how to contact them, please visit their website: https://healthwatchnorthumberland.co.uk/

Ponteland SocialEyes Group

In the summertime, Ponteland SocialEyes normally have an  outing for afternoon tea. Due to Covid 19, they decided to continue the tradition in a creative way. Ponteland Golf club kindly made afternoon teas for our volunteer to deliver. She reports that everyone was delighted, and they all looked well and in good spirits. Here we have Mrs Winifrede Douglas (in the blue dress) and Mrs Alicia Rea receiving their food parcels. It looks like a scrummy Northumberland tea! Thanks to Ponteland Golf Club, and Ponteland SocialEyes :)

Meet Norman and Stella...

Norman is a 16-week old Retriever and Stella, a German Shepherd, is 19 months old. Both are being trained up to be Guide Dogs by a couple of our fab phone service volunteers. Normally, they'd only have one at a time, but due to the current situation are not yet able to hand over Stella. Apparently, Stella and Norman are well-behaved separately, but when they're together - well, that's a different matter! As you can imagine, our volunteers have their hands full. Good luck to them all ... and whoever is lucky enough to have them when they graduate to being Guide Dogs :) 

A very big 'Thank you' to Tynedale Lions!

We received a cheque for £500 raised through this year's online Tynedale Beer Festival. Thank you to Lions, and to everyone who contributed or took part in this year's festival. Can't wait to meet everyone over a pint or three at next year's festival :)