Published on June 8, 2022

Tech helps me feel safe

Case Study – Neil Beeching

Tech helps me feel safe

Neil is registered blind and lives alone, valuing his independence, but antisocial behaviour from teenagers on his estate threatened to undermine his self-confidence and make him feel afraid in his own home. The installation of a video doorbell has identified the culprits and restored Neil’s peace of mind and independent way of life.

Neil tells his story:

“I’ve lived in my current house quite happily for many years. There’s a large shared green space at the front of the house, but despite the city council placing a ‘No ball games’ sign on it, a group of teenagers ignored  polite requests from me and other residents not to play with a heavy football. On one occasion their ball damaged my front door security light, which as a visually impaired person I rely on to help me see when it’s dark.

“When I politely asked them to stop, they greeted me with a string of swear words  and insults and my neighbours son pointed out to the others that I had my white cane with me and was in his words a ‘blind nutcase.’

“I tried to ignore them, but they decided it would be great fun to escalate the situation and to take it in turn to see who could kick the ball the hardest at my window.

“Over the coming months they continued to intimidate me in my own home; using a broken wheelie bin lid as a makeshift frisbee to hit my door and window, running into my garden, thumping my front door and swearing before running off and tipping over my bins, making a real mess!

Fearing for my safety

“Fearing for my safety I decided to call 111 and report the incidents to the police. I was subsequently visited by a Community Police Officer who took derails and asked if could identify the trouble-makers. I pointed out my visual impairment and said I could only identify my neighbours’ son because I heard his name being shouted.

“A few weeks later, they came back after a heavy snowfall and began throwing snowballs packed with bricks and stones at my window and door. This time I didn’t confront them as it was dark and I was scared, so I again called 111, but was told that if I couldn’t identify the culprits there wasn’t a lot the police could do.

“The final straw came when my sister brought me home from an eye scan at the hospital and my neighbours’ son started using a wooden mallet to try and break the glass in my front door.

“We again called 111 and this time the WPC suggested I get a video doorbell, which I knew about from seeing it in the Smart Room at My Sight Notts. We ordered one from Amazon, which was quick, easy and relatively inexpensive to install, which I hoped would be my eyes and record any incidents.

“The doorbell helped me feel a little less anxious, although the fear of what they might do next was always there.

Video evidence

“Sure enough, when the next bank holiday came along they returned, tipping over my plant pots and breaking my garden gate. But this time was different because I was now able to provide the police with video evidence. The police identified and visited all of them and each received a caution. Fingers crossed I’ve had no further incidents for over eight months, which is marvellous!

Tech helped me maintain my independence

“I’m still a little jumpy at unusual noises outside, which I hope will fade in time, because nobody should be made to feel scared in their own home. The doorbell did its job, I feel safer knowing it’s there and pleased it collected the evidence I couldn’t see.

“Technology will make the world a better place for visually impaired people like me. It will help us maintain our independence and live the lives we choose. I think the Smart Room is a great resource for local visually impaired people who can see what’s available and learn how it can benefit us in our daily lives.”

Photo: Neil is pictured wearing a red jumper and answering the phone on our reception desk