Gorebridge man with visual impairment encourages people impacted by sight loss to reach out for charity’s support

A Gorebridge man with sight loss is highlighting the importance of tailored support to cope with the life-changing impact of a visual impairment.

By Kevin Quinn
Wednesday, 4th May 2022, 10:13 am
Updated Wednesday, 4th May 2022, 10:15 am

Phil Purvis (42) has the hereditary sight condition Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP), which causes gradual sight loss.

The dad-of-two admits he had bottled up his feelings about his slowly-deteriorating vision. With his sight loss putting a stop to his much-loved career as a butcher, Phil says the huge life change hit him “like a ton of bricks”.

Phil said: “Sight Scotland has been my saving grace. At the moment, my sight is like I’m looking through a box or over a shelf, that’s the best way to describe it. I was having falls, walking into people and door frames. I found it difficult to talk about.

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Phil Purvis from Gorebridge, who has Retinitis Pigmentosa and has received support from Sight Scotland.

“After Christmas last year I broke down about it, and that’s when I started making phone calls to find support. It just got too much. Everything came at once, and it was like a ton of bricks. For me, the main worries and concerns are to find a new career that suits me. I was overwhelmed.

“That’s when I called the Sight Scotland Support Line. I got through to a lovely advisor and I just broke down. She was brilliant with me, and she had all the time in the world for me on the phone. That was the first time that someone had listened and took me on my word.”

Following that first call, Phil has been receiving regular practical and emotional telephone support from one of Sight Scotland’s Family Wellbeing Service community workers, Emma Hope.

Phil said: “I’d been in the butcher’s trade for 28 years and I’ve managed a lot of shops in my time.

"I didn’t know where to start – it was really daunting not having a clue which way to take my career. But Emma listened to what I had going on and what was happening. Straight away she just started sending help my way. She linked me in with the disability advisor at the job centre. She has also put me in touch with organisations to help me with computer skills.

“She’s broken down what I need to do and when I need to do it. It’s given me a bit more of a plan instead of me going round in circles in my head.

"I was really struggling to come to terms with my sight loss, so she’s also been able to recommend support groups and people who specialise in RP, just to talk.”

Phil says services such as the Sight Scotland Support Line are vital for anyone impacted by sight loss at any stage.

He said: “’Outstanding’ is the only way to describe the support I’ve had. Emma’s pointing me in all the right directions for how to cope with this transition. Without Sight Scotland I don’t know where I’d be or what I’d be doing. I wouldn’t have a clue how to manage this emotionally either.

“This service was really important for me. I’d say to people, don’t struggle with sight loss alone. Reach out for support from Sight Scotland. It’s given me all the little bits that I need to move forward with my life.”  

Sight Scotland’s freephone Support Line can offer information and advice to people with sight loss, as well relatives and carers and friends of people with visual impairment on more how they can help. Relatives and carers can also receive support themselves. 

People impacted by sight loss can call the Sight Scotland Support Line on 0800 024 8973, Monday to Friday from 9am – 5pm, or visit sightscotland.org.uk for further information.