Emergency NOISE       Corona Virus Update: 23rd February 2021

Dear Friend. We hope that you are keeping safe and well. We look forward to 2021 and hope that it brings us all better times! We're aiming to update our website at least every fortnight, so please check back here for the latest news.

Government guidance on Covid-19

As this is a rapidly changing situation, you are advised to check the latest Government advice.

This is available at the following link:  Latest Government Advice

As you may be aware, vaccinations against Covid are finally getting underway. Healthwatch Northumberland have published some useful advice which can be found at the following link: Healthwatch advice on vaccinations

A priority list for vaccinations has been drawn up. Please be aware that this is not simply based on age. The first few priority groups affect the majority of our clients and are as follows:

Priority Group 1. Residents in Care Homes and their carers

Priority Group 2. People over 80 years, and frontline Health and Social Care workers

Priority Group 3. People 75 years and older

Priority Group 4. People 70 years and older, and/or clinically extreme

Priority Group 5. People 65 years and older

A full list is available at the following link: Priority Groups for Vaccination

Please: Keep Safe

When will our offices re-open for normal activities? We understand the extra difficulties during the current times. Safety is our main concern. As all of our support is for people who are vulnerable, including some who are particularly so, we need to take more care than many organisations. Our phone lines (01670 514316) are 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 and therefore most face to face activities are on hold. 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.

Are you a client struggling with the cost of living and require support and assistance over the winter months? If so, we may be able to put you in touch with someone who can help. Please contact us on 01670 514316 and mention "Winter food and fuel support".  

Technology Project

Smart Speakers Grow As A Pandemic-Era Staple. | Story | insideradio.com

We have secured funding for smart speakers, tablets and over-the-phone technical training and support for our clients who already have internet access and a smart phone.

Please contact Ruth Speirs (ruth.speirs@ncba.org.uk)

Fuel Project

We can provide information to clients about reducing fuel costs and managing energy use, as well as on low vision equipment and technology to assist you when using energy.

Please contact Karen Renner (karen.renner@ncba.org.uk) or Julie Swan (julie.swan@ncba.org.uk)

3 Expert Ways to Improve Fuel Savings

TV Licence Concession: Many clients have been understandably asking how they can get their registration number to apply for their discount. Please 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.

An appeal for used low-vision equipment! Do you have any equipment which is no longer needed? This includes devices which assist people with low-vision, such as talking scales, big button phones and clocks, etc.. We can find a home for all these, and are particularly in need of magnifiers. Please contact Helen on 01670 514316. Thank you!  

A Big THANK YOU all clients and their helpers who completed and returned our Autumn Client Survey. Just under half of those sent have been received!!

All surveys received by 11am on 11th December were entered into a draw for a chance to win one of several great prizes in our Autumn raffle. The draw has taken place and we are contacting all winners. This process has been slowed by several matters arising from C-19 precautions and impacts, so we thank winners for their patience.  

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. Thank you. 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.

Alternatively, have you heard about BorrowBox, an online service provided by Northumberland Libraries? It allows you to access lots of library resources, including audio books, E-books, journals and much more.

If you are already a member of a Northumberland library, and know your PIN, click on the BorrowBox image here to join.

If you are already a member, but don't know your PIN, telephone any Northumberland library, or email: mylibrary@northumberland.gov.uk

If you are not already a member, you can join online and get access straight away using a temporary membership number and PIN. You can join online at: http://mylibrary.co.uk   

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 One Call service 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

Amazon Smile: Do you shop on Amazon? Amazon will donate 0.5% of your purchase price to NCBA if you click on this link first:  https://smile.amazon.co.uk/ch/1102386-0 (type into your browser). And that’s it! Shop as normal. AmazonSmile is the same Amazon you know – same products, same prices, same service. You can be donating to us without it costing you a penny. Thank you!

Join our NCBA 100 Club!

for a chance every month to win:

£25 First Prize

£15 Second Prize

£10 Third Prize

Call Ruth on 01670 514316 to enter a draw to win one of these prizes* every month whilst supporting us?

*Shares can be purchased for an annual fee of £12.  Total share money received by January 31st 2021 will be split 50/50 between prize money and support for the services run by NCBA - prize money is therefore subject to total funds raised. Click below to download an application form, or call Ruth at NCBA.

http://www.ncba.org.uk/site/assets/uploads/1.100 Club Application Form.docx

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/

Tynedale Talking Newspaper is a useful local audio news feature. You can access the website using the following link, or clicking on the image here:

 Tynedale Talking Newspaper

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 :) 


Find out about our projects

Our projects

We work closely with many partners and continue to provide many services thanks to their support. Thank you!

One example was the Big Lottery Reaching Communities fund. From 2013-18, NCBA received £495,924 which helped fund our voluntary services and further develop our information service. Find out more about how we put our funding to good use, with our Key Communications project.

Access our resources

Access our resources

Our Resource Centre has a wide range of low-vision aids and other equipment for demonstration, some of which can be given out on loan.
Our facilities include a specially-adapted kitchen suitable for rehabilitation use for teaching kitchen skills to visually-impaired people. 

Get Involved

Get Involved

Volunteering for NCBA is a very rewarding experience, knowing you are making a real difference in supporting blind or partially-sighted people living in Northumberland.
You will be supported by our experienced Volunteer Co-ordinator, who will ensure that you are comfortable with your commitment.

Latest News More News

The Joiners Arms in Morpeth have named NCBA as their Charity of the Year for 2020.

Our thanks go to Grant and all his staff and customers.