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Our struggle to keep caring: Sight charity Beacon launches appeal amid coronavirus crisis

Sedgley | Coronavirus | Published:

The boss of Black Country sight charity Beacon today spoke emotionally of the impact coronavirus was having on those she helped to care for.

The Beacon Centre in Sedgley is launching an appeal as its struggles during the coronavirus crisis

Chief executive Lisa Cowley revealed she had been sleeping on a camp bed at the centre on Sedgley in order to be on hand to help staff.

She said that at a time the charity was losing £25,000 a week from lost shop revenue, its services had never been more needed.

And she revealed how, at the end of a recent 21 hour shift, she had held the hand of a woman as she died.

She said: “I had never ever witnessed anyone pass away before. She was such a lovely woman, so full of character despite the challenges she faced, and I am personally devastated.”

Today Beacon is launching an appeal to bring in much-needed funds amid he coronavirus pandemic

You can give £5 by text on 70085 (cost is £5 plus one standard rate message).

Find out more details on the centre's appeal here

And read more from Lisa on the charity's work below.

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We are at real risk

In the early hours of the morning, I held the hand of a lady we had been caring for as she took her last breath.

It didn’t matter to me that I had been on a shift covering care from 6am that morning until 3am the next, I just could not leave this lady on her own after her health started deteriorating, writes Beacon chief executive Lisa Cowley.

I had never ever witnessed anyone pass away before. She was such a lovely woman, so full of character despite the challenges she faced, and I am personally devastated.

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What might surprise any of you who don’t know me, is I am chief executive officer of sight loss charity, Beacon Vision, but the coronavirus pandemic has forced us to change what we do literally overnight.

I know you might not expect a CEO to be on the frontline. Or to have slept on a makeshift camp bed at their place of work to be there to help.

But from the minute this crisis hit, I knew there was no way I was going to leave my staff or anyone we support to face this alone.

Beacon has been part of the community in the West Midlands for more than 145 years but for the first time, we are at real risk because charities and those delivering social care have been hit hard by Covid-19. We have closed services and retail shops which means we are losing around £25,000 per week already.

Lisa Cowley, CEO of Beacon, is helping launch the centre's appeal amid the coronavirus crisis

Since 1875, our purpose of supporting people with sight loss to live fuller, more independent lives has never wavered but what has become clear is that we have hundreds of people relying on us not just for physical wellbeing but emotional support too. Vulnerable people are telling us they are frightened and ours is the only voice or face they have at the moment.

Beacon provides care to a number of people in the community and some residents in an on-site sheltered living facility at our Sedgley centre, which is co-managed by Bromford. Staff from other areas of the organisation have stepped in to be trained in care to support the small team of carers that we have, from delivering shopping to people, to helping with personal hygiene.

We are doing all of this with hardly any personal protective equipment. Whilst the NHS does not have to pay VAT on any PPE it purchases, social care providers do.

Not only that, we are told we must take any residents discharged from hospital back into our care even with Covid-19 symptoms. We are only now receiving news that we may be able to access testing for our staff.

Care homes are now in focus, which isn’t a bad thing. But care in the community and sheltered care like we provide also needs to be considered.

We have really become similar to a 24-hour care home in our operation because we have had to respond to need – families and friends are no longer permitted to visit relatives in Beacon Court and I simply cannot leave anyone on their own.

If someone you love is in the care of Beacon, you have my word we will continue to give them hope and make them feel part of the Beacon family.

I have never been prouder of the Beacon family in how we have pulled together and responded.

Beacon has launched a crisis appeal. Give £5 by text on 70085 (cost is £5 plus one standard rate message).

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