Lockdowns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have impacted people’s lives all over the world. For John, who lives alone in Blackpool, UK, the lockdown and social distancing mean that he can’t have sighted people over at his house to help him out with daily tasks. Instead he has turned to Be My Eyes volunteers to help him solve tasks such as checking expiry dates on food items, checking settings on electronics and reading cooking instructions. “I find using Be My Eyes gives you independence, because as I live alone in a flat, and of course with the lockdown that we're currently having, I don't need to knock on other people's doors, next door volunteers to come and help and assist me”, John says. “And of course, because they can't come in my building and all that, I'm finding that I'm having to use Be My Eyes more and more which I really enjoy.”
For many people, the pandemic has also kept them from participating in important activities and events - something that John experienced back in November. With the unfortunate passing of his best friend of 30 years, John deeply wished to participate in his funeral service. However, with the funeral service taking place about 100 miles away, John was not able to participate physically, as travel restrictions were in place. Instead, John was able to participate in the service via a live video stream.
John’s colleagues were ready to help him set up the live stream on his phone, but because the website was inaccessible on his phone, John was forced to go home and watch the live stream from his computer. With no colleagues around, John had to set up the live stream himself - something that proved very difficult as the website was inaccessible. “The service was 11 o'clock in the morning and it was about 20 to 11, and I thought of Be My Eyes”, John explains. The volunteer on the other end was able to guide John through the login and enter the numbers to access the live stream - and they made it with four minutes to spare!
Being able to participate in his best friend’s funeral service from a distance meant the world to John; “I'm always in your debt regarding the funeral service of my good friend, because without that I wouldn’t have been able to listen to the service and I enjoyed it that much”, he explains.
“When volunteers are willing to give up their time to help you with some of the simplest tasks it helps so much.”
Although a sad situation, John was happy with the outcome and the interaction he had over Be My Eyes for the funeral service. He always finds the volunteers excellent - especially when they can joke around with him as well, making the interaction fun and humorous. When he connected with a woman to check the settings on his fridge freezer, John was able to have a good laugh because of the volunteer’s humorous attitude. “I just bought a new fridge freezer and I said to the lady after she told me the sell by dates on a few products, I said, ‘Could you tell me what the setting is in the fridge freezer? I'll take you into the fridge freezer.’ And she said to me, ‘Well, just give me a minute while I put my coat on’”, John says with a laugh.
For John, living without sight can be challenging, but with the right help it gets a lot easier to tackle those daily challenges - and Be My Eyes can be just that help. “It gives you that independence, which really is so important for people with sight problems” John states. After his experience using Be My Eyes for accessing the funeral service, John gets excited thinking about just how many out-of-the-box things that he can use Be My Eyes for - besides those important day-to-day tasks where Be My Eyes has already proved to be extremely helpful.