West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper met with children with sight loss and their families to hear about their experiences of education and specialist support at a virtual event hosted by the charity Guide Dogs.
New research from Guide Dogs has found a decrease in happiness, independence and confidence in children with sight loss over the last 12 years. It also found that more than two thirds of parents felt that there was not enough support to help parents and guardians at the point of their child’s sight loss diagnosis.
A child who can see will typically learn through watching and imitating, but a child with a vision impairment instead needs to learn strategies to gain everyday skills such as walking, dressing and navigating.
Guide Dogs knows that with the right support, children and young people with sight loss can achieve anything. Rachel, the mother of five-year-old Nell who spoke at the event, said:
“The early support is going to help Nell grow up to be an independent adult who is blind, and ultimately I think that is a goal for every parent.”
After hearing from Nell and other young people with sight loss and their parents about the difficulties they have faced in accessing the right support, MP Rosie has pledged to support Guide Dogs’ work on ensuring all children have the support they need to live an independent and active life.
West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper said:
“It was a pleasure to meet virtually with the charity Guide Dogs and a number of children with sight loss and their families to discuss the support they receive, and the support they require.
“Guide Dogs do fantastic work supporting children with sight loss but more needs to be done to ensure that every child has access to the support they need.
“I will continue to support Guide Dogs in parliament in any way I can to increase and improve the support available.”
Blanche Shackleton, Head of Policy, Public Affairs and Campaigns at Guide Dogs commented:
“Guide Dogs is best known for our work providing life changing dog partnerships, but we also work with children and young people with sight loss to support their development and education.
“We know more needs to be done to better support children and young people with sight loss. This is why next year we will set up a commission made up of young people, parents, professionals and experts to explore the best support for children and young people with sight loss.”
About Guide Dogs
The charity Guide Dogs exists to provide life-changing services to the 360,000 people who are registered blind or partially sighted, and the two million people in the UK living with sight loss. We believe no-one with sight loss should be left out of life and we want everyone who experiences sight loss to be able to live the life they choose and feel confident, independent and supported in the world.
We’re a UK-wide charity, founded in 1934, and we are best known for our world-famous guide dogs. But our work now encompasses so much more. In recent years, we have expanded our services beyond our dogs to help thousands of people, of all ages and with different needs, to reach their potential and lead fulfilling lives. Find out more at guidedogs.org.uk.