Webinar recording: Tyne & Wear Sight Loss Council Virtual Mental Health VI forum

Did you miss Tyne and Wear SLCs’ VI Forum? Catch up now!

Tyne & Wear Sight Loss Council held a VI Forum on 26th January, to discuss the support available in Tyne & Wear and across the wider North East.

The VI forum was also an opportunity to hear about people’s experiences of the emotional impact of losing your sight, the anxieties and pressures, and find out what support is available to you from the NHS, local and national charities.

Engagement manager Eamonn Dunne says:

“Only 17 per cent of people experiencing sight loss are offered emotional support with their deteriorating vision. More than four in 10 people attending low vision clinics are suffering from symptoms of clinical depression (RNIB).

This VI forum aimed to explore the mental health impacts of sight loss and discuss the available services and what more needs to be done to ensure support is accessible to people living with sight loss.”


The panel

  • Amanda Hawkins – RNIB Strategic Lead for Counselling and Mental Health, Confident Living & Skills Development. Amanda is also Chair of the VI Charity Sector Mental Health Committee and is a qualified counsellor/ psychotherapist.
  • Claire Campbell – Counsellor for blind and partially sighted people, Dandelion Counselling.
  • Iain Marley – Senior Commissioning Support Officer, Durham, Darlington, Teesside Mental Health, Learning Disabilities and Autism Partnership.
  • Mike Brierley – Director Lead for Mental Health & Learning Disability at NHS County Durham.
  • Holly Fillingham – Project coordinator for North East & North Cumbria Mental Health NHS Integrated Care System and PhD candidate in social prescribing.


Amanda Hawkins, RNIB Strategic Lead for Counselling and Mental Health talked about the importance of having access to specialised mental health support, she said:

“Talking to someone who understands sight loss is really important… what people don’t want to do is be in a position where they then have to upskill the helper in sight loss.”


Counsellor/psychotherapist, Claire Campbell talked about how her own lived experience of sight loss enabled her to tailor the support she offers VI clients. She said:

“a lack of awareness around sight loss makes it difficult for counsellors to offer meaningful support”

Director Lead for Mental Health & Learning Disability at NHS County Durham talked about the support delivered through the North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care System.

Project coordinator for NE & N Cumbria Mental Health ICS, Holly Fillingham talked about the resources available through the Signpost NENC website. Holly encouraged webinar attendees to check out the website and provide VI user feedback.

Check out the site here 

You can watch the webinar below

Join us

Want to campaign for more accessible services for blind and partially sighted people in your area? Influence positive change by volunteering for our Sight Loss Council.

Apply online today



Publication date: 03 February 2022

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